Friday, July 4, 2014
Book Review: "Lucky Us" by Amy Bloom
Amy Bloom's latest novel begins with quite a hook:
"My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us."
It's the 1940s, and Eva, an awkward yet intelligent teenager, has her life uprooted when she and her mother get a glimpse of her father's life away from them, a life she had no clue about. She is intrigued by her glamorous half-sister, Iris, who is determined to be a star. The two set out on a journey to Hollywood, where Iris quickly begins to get noticed, and Eva watches from the sidelines, the ever-faithful champion. But when fame proves it has an ugly side as well, the girls are rescued by their father, and wind up headed back across the country, to pursue a new dream on Long Island.
Their lives take an unexpected turn, and each seizes whatever opportunities they can, whether ethical or unethical, until tragedy separates the sisters. Eva begins to realize she must be responsible for her own destiny, and her life continues to follow paths she never expected. As she longs for love of her own, she tries to figure out what her future holds, and whether Iris will be a part of that future.
Lucky Us is the story of the likely and unlikely bonds we forge in life, and how we handle adversity and surprise. It's also a moving look at what makes a familyan interesting concept in today's world, but even more complex given that the book is set in the 1940s. And above all, this is the story about loveromantic and platonic, among friends, lovers, and family. Eva in particular is a fascinating character, one you think at first glance is passive but you realize how insightful and resourceful she is.
I've been a huge fan of Amy Bloom's since I first read some of her short stories in the 1990s. I just love the way she occupies her characters, and pays such detail to the setting as well as the plot. I just wish I loved the book a bit more. It was good, and it definitely kept my interest, but it just didn't wow me. I felt as if a few of the characters weren't as fleshed out yet they had major roles in the plot, and I felt at times that the use of letters as a device to advance the plot didn't quite work. But still, Amy Bloom's storytelling ability dazzles, and that makes the book an interesting and readable one.