Friday, May 30, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

I had to let this one marinate a little bit. There's a lot to consider within this book. Lucky Us centers on the concept of family, whether it is blood or created. The opening line is a great one: "My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.” And indeed, young Eva, who only saw her  father on Thursdays when he came to visit Eva and her mother, take a road trip, where Eva meets her flamboyant older half-sister Iris.  but is also abandoned by her own mother. It's just the first of many episodes where family is created by those around you, and where characters shift and reshape themselves with chameleon-like ease.

The girls run away to Hollywood, where Iris has hopes of becoming a star. She is remade by the studio and her character is revealed bit by bit. The sisters gather and create a home and family, and though they flee California when scandal strikes, family tags along as they move to the east coast to recreate themselves in the New York area.  These characters are survivors, which is a good thing, as the life they create, and the characters they don do not always have an easy go of it. But, they're compelling, and the novel is well written and paced, so the ride is easier for the reader than for Iris and Evie. There was one thread of the story which, while I enjoyed very much, seemed somewhat disjointed -- more as a backstory for the reader than an experience for the two girls. It also involves a reinventing of a character, who seems minor but ends up quite significant. (I'm really trying to be mindful of not revealing spoilers as I write this.)

The title, Lucky Us, is a bit misleading. It reminds me, in some odd way of the line from "Young Frankenstein":  It could be worse. It could be raining. There's a lot in this book that could be worse, but a lot that it the raining. However, Bloom is excellent at her craft, so even when it's raining, the skill of the writing carries through until the sun comes out. Lucky us.

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