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BOOK REVIEW: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

| 19 April 2020 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

October 2019
Paperback, $34.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Fiction Books / Modern & Contemporary Fiction

75% Rocking

No one thumbs their noses at the prospect of luck. In fact, some people even label certain individuals “lucky” because they seem to live a charmed life. Author and broadcaster, Dawn O’Porter examines this idea in her novel, So Lucky. Like her previous book, The Cows, O’Porter crafts a rich and funny world around some strong, female characters.

Everyone else is OK
Everyone else’s life is perfect
Everyone is talking about me
Everyone has this figured out except me…
Everyone’s in the struggle together
Everyone isn’t me
Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about…

Three women are the focus of So Lucky. One is an Instagram influencer named Lauren Pearce. Her world is shown through descriptions of her posts and the reactions (i.e. comments) she receives from her followers. She seems to live an idyllic life. She’s gorgeous to a fault, and about to marry a rich and gorgeous man named Gavin. This sounds perfect but O’Porter leaves us questioning whether there is a little more to her story.

Lauren is childlike, I decide. Not the confident, bubbly person she puts on display on her Instagram feed. From what I have seen, there is always someone, or something, supporting her. Whether it is physical comfort from [her fiancé] Gav, emotional propping from her mother or reassurance from [her PR rep] Jenny, someone is always egging Lauren on. She’s not the person you would expect to meet, the one who takes her clothes off a lot, who talks about happiness and confidence like they come naturally to her. To me she seems quite lost. Or maybe I am just projecting.

The bulk of the plot is left to the other two characters and O’Porter alternates the perspective between them. We have Beth, a successful businesswoman who has recently had a baby. Her husband is the primary caregiver for the moment and she employs a sassy assistant, a millennial named Risky. While things seem well, Beth is actually dissatisfied with life and very sexually frustrated. This leads to some interesting chapters, including a rather bizarre one where the character engages in dogging. It is possible that scenes like this one and O’Porter’s use of profanities may be a turn-off for more sensitive readers.

The other lead, Ruby is the single mother of a toddler. She is a successful, freelance photo editor but is also plagued by physical hang-ups. Ruby has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and this means she is quite hirsute. This character is certainly O’Porter’s best and most layered one. The writer does a fabulous job of realising Ruby and offering intriguing insights about society’s expectations when it comes to beauty for women. The fact that O’Porter also finds moments for levity is also inspiring.

Rooting around in my bag, I realise I have no sanitary towels with me. I don’t have the kind of flow any amount of scrunched-up toilet paper can deal with. I sit for a moment, thinking the unthinkable.
What choice do I have?
I put on one of Bonnie’s nappies.

O’Porter takes her inspiration from Kathy Lette and Marian Keyes because she writes light-hearted and breezy novels. These may seem entertaining and fun, but they also tackle some serious taboos and issues. O’Porter has done an excellent job of structuring this story and threading together the different plots. She also writes with a real sensitivity about some challenging subjects. Unfortunately the same cannot always be said about her characterisation. At times, Ruby’s daughter Bonnie seems far too advanced for her young self, even if she is supposed to be a rather precocious kid.

She [Bonnie] lets out a moan. A moan way more in keeping with the version of her I am used to. She wants me to answer the question.
‘So why are the women in the pictures not pretty?’
‘Because they don’t think they are.’
‘Why don’t they think they are?’
‘Because they think there is something wrong with them.’
‘What’s wrong with them?’
‘Then why do you need to change them?’
I stare at my daughter. She stares back at me. She wants an answer to a simple question but I have no idea what to say. When explaining my job to an innocent child, it feels completely ridiculous.

So Lucky is a rollicking multi-perspective tale about some strong women. It shows how formidable female friendships and bonds can be. The book is a relevant take on modern life’s best and worst facets, and it is utterly relatable. So Lucky is a grounded and refreshing reminder that while other people’s lives may seem bright and sparkly, some of it is little more than tinfoil.

Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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