Reviewed by Karen Corinne Herceg
Lucky Or Not Here I Come
by Gerry Orz
Paperback: 306 pages, August 9, 2017, ISBN-10: 1546431233
Lucky Or Not, Here I Come is the debut novel of Gerry Orz, written when he was just fifteen years old. Immediately the reader can see that Orz is a storyteller who keeps his audience engaged and involved. These attributes also translate well into his ventures in filmmaking. He has already produced two short films. Day of Silence inspired a new bill in California proclaiming a Bullying Prevention Day, bringing awareness to this national problem and hope to many victims. This was followed by The Equation of Life, a film about bullying as seen through the eyes of a child. The themes and issues that Orz communicates through his work are needed more than ever, especially coming from young artists. He has a great observational eye, and his compassion and sensitivity are evident.
John Wilson, the main character of this novel, sees himself as a man with little talent or aspirations. Through a series of unusual circumstances, John becomes an extraordinary person. Orz’s message is to inspire us and help us see that everyone has gifts and opportunities that are sometimes squandered in self-doubts or attempts to live up to others’ expectations. He champions the power of love and loyalty and possibilities for growth through loss, reminding us that we all have the potential to be exceptional.
There are a number of admirable observations to make about this first literary venture. There are good lines, including the first one of the opening chapter that reads, “John stood in a shady spot behind the school, watching the blue sky and wishing he was anywhere but there” (P. 2, ll. 1-2). It offers us an intriguing hook that is so critical for engaging readers quickly. As John’s story develops, we learn to care about him and what happens to him. We become frustrated when he undervalues himself and upset when unfortunate things happen to him. Given the extent and frequency of these incidents, it’s a testament to Orz’s abilities that we feel as we do. That’s because he has heart and he cares, and that translates directly to the reader who sees himself or herself in John and his struggles and identifies with those challenges. We’re angry when he faces difficulties and seemingly unfair situations, and we rejoice when he recovers from them. John succeeds in life because he turns his adversities into opportunities in working with others and by focusing on truly important matters such as love, relationships and connections as opposed to success through status and financial gain. Those things come to him because of his ability to concentrate on what is true and fair. He learns to value himself by valuing others and to leave those people who do not value him. It is not about getting even but doing the right thing.
Orz is not afraid to show his characters’ vulnerabilities, especially his main character, John. In later life, after gaining success and overcoming hardships, he states in a speech, “You know…I was really scared to come here today and to talk to all of you,” (P. 292, ll. 27-28) and admits he was always “…so afraid of everything in this world” (P. 292, l. 29). In these statements Orz manages to have John transcend the pitfall of a one-dimensional hero. He shows us that heroes are ordinary people who deal with their fears, wounds and problems. They overcome them by being true to themselves, not blaming others and learning to turn failures into successes. He shows us that by taking responsibility we not only become a better version of ourselves but role models for others.
While there are structural and editing issues in this new work, with a little more guidance and experience they are all easily solved. Seeking out good editorial advice and solid proofreading are fairly quick fixes. But any suggestions or corrections are secondary to the most important ingredients a writer needs: good storytelling and lots of heart. Orz possesses the ability of the former and the gift of the latter. He has a strong foundation going forward to continue honing his abilities into accomplishments and to continue to grow into an influential artist and important role model. This is a young man to watch.
About the reviewer: Karen Corinne Herceg graduated Columbia University where she studied with David Ignatow and Pulitzer Prize winner Phil Schultz. She has featured at major venues with such renowned poets as John Ashbery and William Packard. Her new book of poems, Out From Calaboose, was released in November 2016 by Nirala Publications with edits by Linda Gray Sexton, bestselling author and daughter of two-time Pulitzer Prize winning poet Anne Sexton. Her website is www.karencorinneherceg.com.