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By Alice Sebold
256 pages; Charles Scribner's Sons

Because she invited us to talk frankly about rape.

Sebold shot to literary stardom with her blockbuster novel The Lovely Bones, narrated by a murdered 14-year-old girl. But first, she wrote this memoir about the violence that forever changed her own life. Sebold was viciously raped at the age of 18 (a police officer told her she was "lucky" because she wasn't killed). She not only fought for the rapist's conviction but also boldly spoke out about the aftermath of sexual assault. First published in 1999, Lucky started a necessary conversation that hasn't ended. — Dawn Raffel