Cover Image: Lucky Dogs

Lucky Dogs

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and Knopf for the ebook. The author has taken the reporting on the Weinstein abuses and pulled her own story about an unstable young actress who gets abused by a producer and a young woman who befriends the actress, but turns out to be an ex Mossad agent spying on the actress, hired by the monstrous producer. The author splits the story and alternates chapters by doing a deep dive into each woman and their lives to show how they both made the choices that they did.

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I was immediately drawn in by the simple vintage nature of this cover and boy was the content and narrative fulfilling as well. I am so thankful to Knopf, PRH Audio, Helen Schulman, and NetGalley for granting me audiobook access and digital access to this one of kind tale of friendship, feminism, and social activism. Lucky Dogs is set to hit shelves on June 6, 2023, and I can't wait for the hype to come.

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Heavily influenced by the Harvey Weinstein story, Lucky Dogs follows two women - a young starlet taken advantage of by a nameless uber-producer and the ex-Mossad spy tasked with ruining her. Both stories are interesting in their own right, but they do not go together. In fact, switching between the two POVs feels like reading two different books.

I can see where Schulman was hoping the narrative to go, but it never quite makes it. Instead, we have a stream of conscious narration of a woman spiraling in real-time juxtaposed with a harrowing tale of sociopathy borne of childhood trauma. But what annoys me the most is the inclination to focus on a woman’s actions within a rape story instead of the repugnant man actually at the center.

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Let me start by saying, as you can probably guess by the summary, this book focuses heavily on rape and it is incredibly dark and graphic. It depicts how deeply the trauma of rape can burrow into a person and effect so many aspects of their lives. I personally thought it was done well, but definitely not going to be for everybody.

I read Farrow’s Catch and Kill (which is phenomenal!) but I hadn’t really paid attention to the fact that one of the spies who went the deepest into infiltrating Rose McGowan’s life was a woman. This book explores how one woman could come to a position where she happily accepts payment by a known serial rapist to destroy a victim’s life. It was very interesting and a unique exploration into this side of the case that in part led to the #MeToo movement. The writing style may also not be for everybody; the actress’ perspective is written a bit in stream of consciousness, including with text speak. It was jarring at first, but ultimately worked for me and helped further contextualize the character.

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This novel is divided into 5 parts. I was just catching the flow of the story in part 1 and then part 2 makes a major detour to an entirely different timeline and writing style. Part 3 switched back to the first part's timeline, etc but I could only make it about halfway through before I quit.

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Lucky Dogs is an angry fever dream of a novel. Upon opening, we are introduced to our main narrator, Meredith. She’s a B-list actress hiding out in Paris after a #MeToo scandal. It’s at an ice cream shop one evening that she meets Nina.
They only briefly interact, but affect each other for a long time. Neither are who they say they are. And both, deeply affected by trauma, are unnervingly detached, and erratic.
Some parts of the story pulled me in and others I couldn’t connect to or care about completely. Ultimately, this is an interesting book, and I do think it’s incredibly purposefully written.

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I like this books but I was bored. I was engrossed in some chapters and others fell flat. I wish Nina's parts wasn't based in the past like Meredith's or they both had back story. It's a quick read but it's well written, fun (in the way of going through life without a filter), and educational about what it's like to be sexually assaulted.

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This was a tough one to review for me. I was really excited by the blurbs about this book and I had high hopes, but it ultimately wasn't what I anticipated. I really enjoyed the book but I think that maybe my expectations were too high. Meredith isn't supposed to be a sympathetic character and I think that's the point. She's almost the perfect victim because she's so messy on her own that she's easy to discredit. That being said, I think I enjoyed reading more about Nina. Her chapters were more interesting and added depth to the story in a way that I wish Meredith's did.

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An American TV star is Paris engaging in classic sad girl activities when she crosses path with an interesting woman at just the right moment. The two women are confronted by a group of vulgar and unsafe American men, and their responses forge a connection between the two strangers who have both faced sexual violence before. However, this seemingly fortuitous meeting quickly spirals into a treacherous situation.

1️⃣ A mix of sad girl lit and a thriller?! I was very excited about the combo, and it’s done well. The book offers the mind-numbing passing of days you expect from sad girl lit while also creating moments for action.

2️⃣ The shift from the first character’s perspective to another story in the second section in the book is jarring. I checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally clicked into another book in my Kindle library after a few pages in that section. The stories are seemingly unrelated until later in the book when it becomes clear how they match up.

3️⃣ Although the two perspectives are necessary for the big ideas Schulman pushes the reader to consider, the secondary story is a bit clunky and took more effort to get through.

4️⃣ As you move further into the book, Schulman leads you to consider painful and difficult questions about the effects of trauma and the ways a victim can become a perpetrator.

5️⃣ Although I enjoyed this book at times, it wasn’t a favorite. The topic was great, and I can’t pinpoint exactly what didn’t click for me, but it just didn’t. It earns 3 stars from me.

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This one wasn’t for me - I tried my best to get into it but during part 2 I found my mind really wandering and couldn’t understand what the backstory had to do with the overall plot.

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What is not clear from the jacket synopsis of this book is that this is very directly a #MeToo story. Hollywood celebrities who were involved in the real scandal are name dropped frequently, and there are obvious real world corollaries to the characters. Our protagonist, Meredith, is a young actress laying low in France after a being victimized by a Weinstein-esque rapist/powerful producer. She meets Nina, who shares her own account of sexual violence and quickly wins Nina's trust and solidarity.

I can't say too much without risking spoilers, but suffice it to say Nina is not what she seems, which is why the book is so propulsive and exciting and nuanced. It tackles a lot of uncomfortable or difficult topics, like the involvement of females in condoning or even participating in the exploitive rape culture of Hollywood, what makes a victim sympathetic, the sacrifices we make for dreams, the limitations of birth and opportunity, and who we owe loyalty to.

Would have been five stars but for the anticlimactic ending, but definitely still worth reading!

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DNF -- this was tough for me! I couldn't get into the narrator's voice, and wasn't hooked into the story while reading. Just not for me right now.

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A story of two women who meet in Paris and their journey leads to betrayal. This one described itself as having the pace of a thriller, but that was not the vibe I got. It was much slower for me, and felt wordy in places where I thought it could have been pared down. That could have just been writing style, which other people might enjoy!

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Wow! Lucky Dogs was a truly powerful book. Reading the POV of Meredith was visceral at times. Although she’s not a likable character, she’s an important one. I was interested to see how this was going to end up.

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When we enter this novel, we meet our main character Meredith, an actress who is floundering after a rape committed by a Harvey Weinstein-type of producer nicknamed the Rug. She meets Nina after an incident takes place, and Meredith forms a connection with Nina and writes her story for Nina.

At first I thought this was written by a new author, but this author has a considerable backlist. Having read both "She Said" and Ronan Farrow's book, you can easily see that the facts laid out in those books were used here. However, this story isn't a repeat of those. This is a unique take with a spy/caper story twist.

We learn about both Meredith and Nina. Meredith is given 3/5 of the novel, and Nina is given 2/5. Nina has a very interesting backstory that the novel does delve into. Both are not very likeable characters. I don't mind unlikeable characters, but some do - so keep that in mind.

The author is very talented at creating visceral scenes. I think a few of the scenes won't leave my memory for quite a while.

What didn't work as well for me is the narrative itself. The opening 10% was particularly angsty, almost like you were reading a young adult novel. It did smooth out as far as the angst once you get your bearings. I felt like the author wrote a lot of tangents that were of interest to her, but I'm not sure how interested most readers would be in them. The story between the two women could have been weaved together a bit more.

And, finally, I'm not sure of this novel's demographic appeal. I can't see a lot of men reading it, and it seems to skew to a younger age demographic. The main characters are in their 20s, act young, and aren't very redeemable. I was surprised to find out the author was a teenager in the 1970s in the author's note. I would have bet money she wasn't older than 35. She did a masterful job impersonating a younger author.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance reader copy in an exchange for an honest review.

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Set in Parus, Lucky Dogs by Helen Schulman is a powerful and relevant read that reflects our current society and tackles themes of sexual abuse. Schulman is definitely a great writer. However, some parts of the book were less interesting than the rest of it. Following the #MeToo movement, Lucky Dogs is a must read for lovers of literary and women’s fiction. Thank you Knopf & NetGalley for the ARC!

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Powerful and evocative writing. An important book for the #MeToo movement. This story will stay with me for a very long time. Helen Schulman is unflinching in shining a light on a difficult subject matter.. Thank you Knopf publishing and NetGalley for my ARC of this.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This wasn't the style for me and I really struggled to get through the first half of the book (if it hadn't been an ARC I definitely wouldn't have finished it). I liked it better in the second half/last quarter and I liked the message behind the writing, but just couldn't catch the tone.

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I really wanted to love this book but it just wasn't as good as I had hoped. I liked the idea of the story. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Three stars. The writing was ok. The character not my favorite.

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Hm. Mixed feelings here. Schulman, no denying it, is a terrific dynamo of a writer. She writes with energy, fizz, pizzazz, all those words. Reading her character Merry’s sections of the novel were immersive, addictive, sometimes hilarious. Her other main character, Nina, was less magnetic. Interestingly based on a real figure, but still somehow dull. And the structure of this novel, while driven by outrage, worthily, didn’t seem to me quite right. Too much water was trod in the long middle section and not enough time and space devoted to the finale. The set-up in Paris was probably the best part - fast driven, multi-layered, engrossing. After that, an awful lot of backstory and not much momentum.
Still, Schulman is a talent. Good for her.

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