Book Report: The Lucky One and Moonshiner’s Daughter

The Lucky One:

• Nicholas Sparks may be known to the world (even if you haven’t read his books you know them, because they tend to get made into movies. Like Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John and The Last Song) he belongs to North Carolina. The New Bern-based author has a next romantic novel — Safe Haven — is due out this fall (and Xpress has been promised an advanced review copy!) but to tide readers over this summer, Sparks’ 2008 novel The Lucky One is out in paperback.

Okay, spoiler alert: If you read/saw Rodanthe and didn’t appreciate the tear-jerker of an ending, Lucky is your book. It’s got all the sensitive touch-and-go romance that a Sparks novel is known for, but with a totally satisfying finish.

The story is of former soldier Logan Thibault who, while on tour in Iraq, finds a photo of a woman wearing a “Lady Luck” t-shirt. The photo seems to serve as a good luck charm for Logan, saving him from disastrous situations. Five years later, back in the U.S., he decides to find the woman in the photo because he feels he owes her. So, with his faithful German shepherd by his side he walks cross-country from Colorado to the N.C. coast.

That bit, the walking a couple thousand miles, seems unlikely. But readers don’t have to suspend belief because Sparks does such a seamless job fleshing out Logan’s character and making him viable. The former marine is steely-cool, pensive, secretive yet straightforward, reserved yet accessible.

Early into the story, Logan does find the women in the photo. Her name is Beth, she runs a kennel, lives with her grandmother and young son, and has little in the way of a love-life thanks to an overbearing and possessive ex-husband. Small-town politics, haunting memories and fear of getting hurt continually threaten the burgeoning romance between Logan and Beth.

What’s interesting is that, while neither Logan or Beth are expecting a relationship, we the readers know from the beginning what will unfold. Yet — and this is the genius of Sparks — we still want to read the story. And, while the end result is pretty much guaranteed from the start, how Sparks steers his characters to that point provides a compelling ride.

Also interesting: Lucky is actually a fairly spare book with a slow build and a narrow scope. Yes, Logan comes with an incredible back story — his tour in Iraq, his cross-country trek — but that’s it. No rambling monologues, no childhood flashbacks. The details are just enough to make us believe and nothing extra that would confuse or burden the story line.

But, for all the gradual build and low-key trajectory of Luck, the end is a surprise with plenty of action and tension leading to a dramatic, but ultimately happy, conclusion.


• Southern mystery writer Lawrence Thackston, author of The Devil’s Courthouse reads at Malaprop’s on Saturday, July 31 at 7 p.m. Read a review of the book here.


• Waynesville-based author Mary J. Messer announces the release of her memoir, Moonshiner’s Daughter. According to a press release, “Moonshiner’s Daughter is Messer’s early life story of a young girl raised in some of the most remote, backwoods parts of Haywood County, North Carolina, deep in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Her father, an ardent moonshiner when he wasn’t in prison, and her mother, often showing mental illness from an earlier brain injury, raised their four children in some of the grimmest circumstances imaginable. Messer eventually escaped her extreme living conditions by going to live with the Queen family as their mother’s helper outside of Washington, DC. She then moved to New York City to join her older sister who had run away from a forced marriage.”

The book is for sale at the Bargain Book Store (1032 Mauney Cove Rd., Waynesville) and Blue Ridge Books (Main St., Waynesville) and will also be available at Messer’s upcoming author events (dates TBA).


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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3 thoughts on “Book Report: The Lucky One and Moonshiner’s Daughter

  1. mary judith messer

    I wish to thank all the people who have bought my Book. Lots of you have wrote letters and Emailed me asking how I could forgive my birth parents. Why Cheryl and I sent Bus tickets for my mother and younger sister to come spend time with us in NY also send down CHRISTmas gives down to them. Friends all I can say to all your questions to all this. Cheryl and I was very lonely up in that big city. Friends you only know half my life. You would not belive what happen to me after I came back from NY My Mother was still dranking and all. I had three young sons and my mother did all kind of very bad things to my young family. But with my LORDS help I was able to forgive them all. It has took me over forty years to forgive my younger sister. But my LORD say’s FORGIVE because he has forgave my sins. I hope I have helped some understand why I hade anything to do with my birth family after they did so much harm to Chirl and my self.

  2. Mary J Messer Moonshiners Daughter

    My DEAR FRIENDS At this date I have sold almost four thousand copies of the Moonshiners Daughter I have been to thirty eight Book signs. I wish to think each and every one of you dear people who have bought my TRUE STORY. Thank you for your great reviews on Amazon.My GOD has sure blessed me so very much. Without MY LORD I would not be here today. I Pray each day I will be able to see my LIFE ON THE BIG SCREEN. May the LORD Bless you all. Mary J Messer

    • Zonia Rivas

      Mrs Mary Judith. I bought your signed book in a small bookstore in a gift/gas store in a little town by the Gatlinburg national smoky Mtns State Park. We’ve been on vacation and have been reading it every free minute I have. I live in El Paso, far west Texas st the end of the Rocky Mountains. All desert there. Your book is so well written. You take me to where you grew up. Thank you for sharing your life. This was the best purchase I’ve made . I really admire your strength and proving that despite bad childhood, you can still have a good life ( although nobody has a perfectly perfect life). You show happiness and love. Thank you!

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