About a month ago, I reviewed Amy Bloom’s Away. I loved it, and couldn’t wait to read her latest novel, Lucky Us. Lucky Us is the story of two sisters, Eva and Iris. Taking place in the 1940s, the novel begins when Eva’s mother abandons her with her father (and her half-sister Iris). Eva and Iris form an unlikely pair and when Iris seeks stardom in Hollywood, Eva tags along. This novel encompasses their lives from Ohio to Hollywood to New York. Along the way, the two experience some good luck and some bad luck, and manage to create their own family.
Like Away, Lucky Us is a beautifully written book. The idea is very simple (it’s the story of two sisters and their lives together), but Bloom writes it in such a complex way. It is not overly emotional and dark, but at the same time it is heartbreaking (in a light, easy way, if that makes sense). Once again, the characters are fully fleshed out and complex. They are not perfect, but it is easy to understand them. I found them all to be likeable even though they didn’t always make the best choices. I enjoyed reading about the girls’ adventures and meeting all the interesting characters along the way. The story could have been cliche or predictable, but instead it was surprising, without being shocking (everything that happened made sense for the characters), and it felt very fresh. At the heart of the book is a story about family- how it is possible to collect family members over time, and how much you are willing to do for them, but it isn’t cheesy. I appreciated the historical aspects of the book (parts revolve around WWII) and I liked how Bloom showed how the war affected everyday people (a character is accused of being a German spy and is first sent to an internment camp before being shipped off to Germany). Bloom uses letters throughout the story to show what is happening to characters who are no longer part of the main narrative. It was a nice way to keep in touch with them, even though they weren’t part of the main story any longer. The ending isn’t very dramatic, and the story is tied up nicely without being too overdone. I was satisfied at the end, even though the story could have continued.
I didn’t find this book as compelling and hard to put down as Away, but it was still a great story and I enjoyed reading it. What makes Bloom’s books stand out for me are her compelling characters and beautiful prose.
4 out of 5 (Only because I rated Away 5 out of 5 and I loved it so much more)
Disclosure: I received a Kindle version of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review.