By Julie Kish

Novel: Lucky
Author: Marissa Stapley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2021

Toronto writer Marissa Stapley’s novel Lucky is the first Canadian title to be selected for Reese’s Book Club. Actor/producer and book lover Reese Witherspoon picks books that feature strong female characters, and her choices generally become instant best sellers in the U.S. and internationally.

“This is such an electric story about an unconventional heroine,” said

Witherspoon in a press release. Reese’s Book Club has been selecting books since 2017, and Lucky was the choice for December 2021.

Lucky is a contemporary novel about a con artist with a heart of gold and a winning lottery ticket she can’t cash because the FBI is on her tail.

Luciana Armstrong, also known as Lucky, had a tragically unlucky childhood.

Abandoned by her mother as an infant, she was raised by her con artist father, who taught her how to make a living by swindling people out of their money.

Determined to escape her criminal life, she manages to obtain a business degree. Still, she makes some bad decisions with her con artist boyfriend and ultimately uses her education to commit more sophisticated crimes.

Lucky realizes she has hit rock bottom when her father is in jail, her boyfriend has taken off with all her money, and the FBI is trying to arrest her. She believes her luck has changed when she discovers she has the winning ticket for a multimillion-dollar lottery.

But she can’t cash it, and there is no one in her life she trusts to cash it for her. In a desperate attempt to find someone to trust, she begins searching for her birth mother.

Lucky is a likable con artist who grapples with the morality of her indiscretions while staying internally optimistic that she will be able to escape her criminal past and have the normal life she always wanted.

I found myself rooting for this complex, multi-layered character from the start. The story is fast-paced, plot-driven and full of unexpected twists that kept me wondering what would happen to Lucky and the lottery ticket until the very end.

It is expertly written with dual timelines that merge seamlessly and contribute to this novel being difficult to put down. Its compact size (only 256 pages) makes Lucky a binge-worthy read.

After receiving a journalism degree from Ryerson University in 2003, Stapley worked as a freelance journalist and a magazine editor before publishing her first novel in 2014. She has also taught creative writing at the University of Toronto and Centennial College.

The television rights for Lucky have been picked up by ABC/Disney Studios, and Stapley is collaborating on developing the screenplay. Marissa Stapley is not only highly talented, but she is also profoundly lucky.