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Last Updated on January 12, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1041

Author: Yvonne Prinz (b. 1960)

First published: 2015

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Realism

Time of plot: Present day

Locale: False Bay, California

Principal characters

Georgia, a schizophrenic teen

Lucky, her older brother

Fin, his friend

Sonia, his girlfriend

Sharona , a friend and...

(The entire section contains 1041 words.)

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Author: Yvonne Prinz (b. 1960)

First published: 2015

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Realism

Time of plot: Present day

Locale: False Bay, California

Principal characters

Georgia, a schizophrenic teen

Lucky, her older brother

Fin, his friend

Sonia, his girlfriend

Sharona, a friend and coworker of Georgia's

The Story

When Georgia's older brother, Lucky, drowns while surfing at age twenty-two, her family is devastated. Early in the novel, Georgia says, "Anyone could see that Lucky was my mom and dad's favorite, and I didn't even mind. . . . The thing I loved most about Lucky was that he made me feel normal." As the family moves forward without Lucky, readers learn that "normal" is especially complicated for Georgia. Courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers

Georgia's life in False Bay, California, is quiet. She works two jobs, one as a salesperson in a kite and taffy shop, and one as a baker at a local inn. She loves baking and is planning to go to culinary school in the future. However, she confesses that people in town treat her differently because she has never behaved in expected ways. She has always been the student who caused problems, who had outbursts, and who had no friends. Additionally, the medications that she takes regularly have side effects that limit her emotional reactions. Therefore, when Fin, an attractive boy who was friends with her brother, comes to town, she is surprised that she has a strong reaction to him: she is both attracted and repelled by this boy for whom everyone in town—including her parents, her bosses, and Lucky's girlfriend, Sonia—seems to have fallen. Her dislike is the result of a budding theory that Fin is taking over Lucky's life; he treats her like a younger sister, he starts dating Lucky's girlfriend, he tries to replace Lucky with her parents, and he befriends Lucky's dog.

When Georgia reveals that she is "most likely suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia," the reason for her medications becomes apparent, while her suspicions of Fin become questionable. As she struggles to reconcile with Lucky's death and with her fears that Fin is more sinister than anyone thinks, she stops taking her medications, and her family and friends begin to worry about her. She is briefly hospitalized with schizophrenic episodes, but she promises to take her medications as prescribed. This does not happen, however, and she eventually falls into a dangerous pit of doubt that raises questions about whether she is delusional or actually more insightful than everyone else.

Georgia's investigation into Fin leads to questions about the young man's background and his motives in coming to False Bay. Clues about former friendships and the day that Lucky died suggest that Georgia may actually be correct in her suspicions. As Georgia becomes subsumed by what others see as delusion, Fin insinuates himself into Lucky's life. He has taken over Lucky's old job with Georgia's dad, and he has made her mom start to smile again. Sonia, now with Fin, reveals to Georgia that she is pregnant and that they are in love and plan to marry. Fin seems to care about what happens to Georgia as well, but she knows he is wearing a mask. Though she tries to tell others her suspicions, they do not believe her, and she has a break with reality that leads to her running away. Eventually, she returns to a place where she felt safe with Lucky, but Fin follows her. Sonia overhears him admitting that he did kill Lucky, and he is arrested.

The novel ends with Georgia finding a way back to a more stable state of mental health. She returns to baking and plans to pursue her culinary education. She has met a young man with similar mental health issues. Though she does not want to let go of Lucky, she understands that she can find peace, and the novel ends on a positive note.

Critical Evaluation

Prinz's use of a mentally ill first-person narrator effectively keeps readers guessing about what is truly happening throughout the book, while also prompting readers to think about the emotional, physical, and moral issues surrounding mental illness in everyday life. Georgia's struggle with mental illness is a difficult but significant theme throughout the novel. She continuously reveals the challenges she has dealt with since childhood; for instance, early on, she tells Fin of the time when she was thirteen and accidentally set fire to the school. Particularly once she ceases taking the medications that help her control schizophrenic episodes, events in the novel can be challenged as delusions, adding a layer of mystery to the theories that Georgia raises about Fin and Lucky's death. Her visions of Lucky raise questions about her stability, and her belief that something is wrong with a young man who seems so likable to everyone around her just furthers other people's convictions and biases that Georgia is the one in the wrong.

Prinz also uses Georgia's schizophrenia to raise awareness regarding the controversial side effects that medication can cause for a mentally ill young person. Georgia suffers from headaches and lethargy as a result of her medications; as people begin to doubt her theories, she weans herself off of them. The disappearance of the side effects makes her feel as though she is regaining mental clarity, but the reality is that she is deteriorating, experiencing more hallucinations, hearing voices, and fearing everyone around her. Only after she is hospitalized following Fin's attempt to kill her does she regain some footing, aided by a new psychiatrist and new medication. Treatment for her illness is shown to be necessary for her to return to some sense of stability.

Further Reading

  • Review of If You're Lucky, by Yvonne Prinz. Kirkus Reviews, 15 Aug. 2015, p. 31. Literary Reference Center Plus, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=108884765&site=lrc-plus. Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.
  • Review of If You're Lucky, by Yvonne Prinz. Publishers Weekly, 20 July 2015, pp. 194–95. Literary Reference Center Plus, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=108510336&site=lrc-plus. Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.
  • Prinz, Yvonne. "#MHYALit: Creating Georgia, a Mentally Ill Character—a Guest Post by Author Yvonne Prinz." Teen Librarian Toolbox, School Library Journal, 16 Mar. 2016, www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2016/03/mhyalit-creating-georgia-a-mentally-ill-character-a-guest-post-by-author-yvonne-prinz/. Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.
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