Monday, October 6, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Random House

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

In the midst of turmoil between WWI and WWII, Eva Acton was dropped off on her father's doorstep after his wife passed away. She soon learned that all the illusions she held about her father were simply those - illusions. Combining her love of literature and her half-sister's acting talents, the girls struck out for Hollywood. It wasn't long before they find themselves on the wrong end of the stick and back to the East Coast.

As the years passed the family's paths diverged and left each in a different part of life as well as the world. Eva did whatever she could to survive in years following WWII when her little area of New York changed with the flood of returning soldiers and immigrants looking for their own better life. Trials and tribulations came in all shapes and sizes, but it's sweetness and kindness of life's moments that made it worth continuing.

NetGalley had this title for request. I decided to step out of my comfort zone a little and requested the title for review. From the outset of the story, it was evident that this wasn't going to be your usual coming-of-age story set in the time period between the WWI and the end of WWII. Much of the novel followed the lives of Eva Acton and her rag-tag family through the years. When I said her family wasn't the typical family of that generation, I meant it. Her father had two families, keeping Eva's a secret until the moment his first wife passed away. Even after she joined the family, her true identity was kept away from inquests for fear of shaming Iris, her half-sister.

In my opinion Eva was the main character of the book despite the letters from other characters or portions of chapters from another character's point-of-view. She may not have been in the middle of all the events that took place in the book, but they definitely impacted her life. These events had more of an impact on her than those directly involved. For every person that left her, another came along with the love, support, or whatever she needed at that time. The reader was shown what happened to the other characters including Iris, her half-sister; Edgar, her father; Fransisco, make-up artist extraordinaire; and Danny, her one saving grace.

There were lots of descriptions about the time, place and events in this book that brought the era to life for me. The opulence of Hollywood came through the author's words as Iris and Eva struggled to make Iris a movie star. Just as striking was the poverty and hard climb back to middle class that the family endured when they moved to New York in order to start their lives over. As wonderful as those parts were, I felt some of the story was slow moving, although they moved the entirety of the story along. At times the passages seemed a bit disjointed but ultimately came together in the end.

Overall, I liked this story more than I thought I would. There are a number of layers in this story from a girl who struggled to find her true place in a world trying to do the same to the harsh reality of a country frightened by war and spies. I was a little surprised to find so many characters present in the story that would be considered "outsiders" during this particular generation. From being black, Jewish, lesbian, or from German heritage, there were a lot of differences that still managed to bring people together in the end. If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary or want to read about a girl's unique journey to womanhood and beyond, I would recommend putting this book on your TBR list.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom is currently available online and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either hardcover or digital versions. Clicking the link below will take you to the book's page at Amazon.
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

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