Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Club Friday: Review and Giveaway of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

So far I'm on track with my Summer Book Challenge. Every book I've read this summer has contributed to the challenge categories. Since my recap at the beginning of the month, I've read American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics, with "sex" being my chosen antonym to "abstinence" (A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram!).  

My latest read is Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, in bookstores on July 29th. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the novel in exchange for my honest review.*

Official book summary: “My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.”
So begins the story of teenage half sisters Eva and Iris in this brilliantly written, deeply moving, and fantastically funny novel by the beloved and critically acclaimed author of Away. Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star, and Eva, the sidekick, journey across 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the sisters from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island. With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with memorable characters and unexpected turns, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, these unforgettable people love, lie, cheat, and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.

Based on the description, I was expecting another kind of book. I thought more of the focus would be on Iris's quest for stardom. Even so, I LOVED this book. 

The characters are deeply flawed, but in a very human way. The father is selfish and aimless. Iris is ruthless in pursuit of both stardom and love. Eva is a colorless character, lacking her own personality and dreams.

But Lucky Us is, in many ways, a coming-of-age novel not just for Eva, but for Iris and even their father as well. Each character (eventually) grows and matures in their own way. 

While other reviews have not liked the use of letters to introduce new chapters, I disagree. I think that's a personal stylistic preference, but I like the mixing of letters and prose. If you tend to skim chapter titles, though, just realize that some of the letters are marked as never sent. So while we get to read the character's thoughts in the letter, the recipient never had the chance to read it. 

So far, I have avoided spoilers in my review, but I want to include a few small spoilers to explain my favorite parts of the novel. You have been warned.

Iris is a lesbian. Despite the book's setting against the backdrop of WWII, Iris's same-sex attraction and relationships with women are completely accepted by the few people allowed to know. Of course, it is a scandal when a photographer catches Iris having sex on the beach with a big Hollywood star who then betrays Iris and has the rising starlet blacklisted from the town. 

I won't say the most despicable or even the second-most despicable thing that Iris later does for love, but they are pretty horrible and eventually cause a long-lasting rift with Eva. 

Due to the generosity of Random House, one lucky reader will win a copy of Lucky Us! Sadly, this is only open to US readers. Alas. Enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received both a book and a gift card in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Belle,

    I was nominated for a liebster award, and In return I wanted to nominate you! Just click my blog link below for all of the details!


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