So picking up and moving to a foreign country sounds pretty awesome, right? Not only do you get the chance to check out cool new people and places, you get the chance to leave behind everything lame about your hometown. When Lucy arrives in the U.S., she's totally stoked to have traded her humdrum existence back in the Caribbean for the promise of big-time adventure in North America. But despite the fact that the U.S. is supposed to be one big old welcoming melting pot, Lucy finds herself struggling to fit into the mix.
Land of the free? Lucy reveals that the U.S. can be a hostile and unwelcoming place for foreigners.
Free at last: living in North America allows Lucy to explore her identity in ways that life in the Caribbean could not.
Warning: Lucy may make you blush (you might even turn fifty shades of red). The thing is, Lucy isn't at all hesitant about opening up to us readers about her very, uh, active sex life. At times, it's even a little tough to keep all of her various lovers straight. Some of Lucy's rather unconventional attitudes toward sexual activity may even end up shocking some of more reserved readers (intrigued yet?). One thing's for sure: Lucy manages to defy many common beliefs—or at least many common beliefs circulating in American culture—about passion, sex, and love.
Sexual experimentation plays a central role in Lucy's search for identity.
Lucy suggests that sex isn't really the big deal others make it out to be.
In Lucy, our title character's friendships pretty much drive her crazy. Sure, Lucy's friendships appear hunky-dory on the surface. Mariah acts like the two are BFFs at times and Lucy becomes so tight with Peggy that they end up roomies by the novel's end. If Lucy had a Facebook page, there'd no doubt be pics of her and her new buds splashed all over it. But the truth is that misunderstandings, differences, and conflicts plague each of Lucy's friendships, leaving her feeling alienated and alone. Yeah, it's a huge bummer.
Ouch: Lucy suggests that friendship can be painful.
Most of the characters in Lucy are way too self-centered to form true friendships.
Lucy spends a whole lot of time in this novel hanging out with other women, thinking about the women in her past, and contemplating some of the injustices she's experienced as a woman. So it'd be pretty weird if women and femininity weren't a major theme of this book. But you can breathe a sigh of relief because it is. We might even go so far as to say it's impossible to really understand the central characters in Lucy without considering the fact that they're women. Yes, we might say that. . . .but you be the judge.
Mariah and Lucy have very different ideas about what equality for women means.
Despite her rejection of some conventional expectations about women, Lucy holds some pretty conservative views about gender.
When Lucy begins working for the family featured in the novel, it's almost like she's joined the cast of one of those old sitcoms from the 1960s. This book's got all the essential elements: the doting mother, hard-working father, and bunch of charming kids who say sassy stuff all the time. As Lucy soon finds out, the image of perfection this family projects is just as phony baloney as the ones projected on television screens. And this turns out to be a mighty valuable lesson for someone who thought she was the only one with a messed up family.
Lucy suggests that too much wealth can be bad for a family.
Cross-cultural pain-in-the-butt: Lucy shows that families everywhere can be stifling and oppressive.
Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like. . .uh, wait a minute. These two things actually don't seem to go together at all in Lucy. Sure, Mariah and Lewis might appear to be a lovey-dovey couple. But Lucy is quick to alert us to the ginormous cracks in their relationship long before we see for ourselves the train wreck that their marriage eventually becomes. On top of that, Lucy's own recollections of her parents' loveless marriage don't exactly inspire us to have great confidence in matrimony. But, lucky for us dedicated students, we can probably learn just as much if not more from crappy marriages as we can from happy ones.
Marriage brings out the worst in people in Lucy.
If Lucy ever decided to tie the knot, she'd probably have a way more successful marriage than any of the other characters in this novel.
Lucy features a few really juicy sexual and romantic betrayals—you know, the ones that make for an awesome hour of TV drama. These betrayals end up rocking the worlds of some of the novel's characters so we can hardly underestimate their importance. At the same time, betrayals by family and friends seem to play an even bigger role in our main character's experiences. As Lucy shows, betrayals are never pretty, but they can end up revealing a whole lot about the people around us—and ourselves.
Good intentions are sometimes at the source of betrayals in Lucy.
Lucy suggests that betrayals by family and friends are far more hurtful than betrayals by lovers.
Dissatisfaction isn't a great feeling (duh). In Lucy, our heroine's expressions of her feelings of emptiness and despair can't help but tug at the heartstrings of readers (well, except for that contingent of robot readers). While Lucy's struggles with her discontent seem about as much fun as getting braces put on your teeth, the novel suggests that dissatisfaction can have some surprising perks. After all, as Lucy seems to find, feeling utterly miserable can sometimes give you just the kick in the butt you need to try to change your situation.
Lucy would've been a whole lot happier if she'd never left her home in the Caribbean.
Lucy suggests that an obsession with personal happiness is what's wrong with people in the U.S.