Author’s Note: The following book review was previously published on my old blog on June 9th, 2014. The majority of the content of this post has remained the same from the review at that time, however references to a giveaway associated with said review have been amended accordingly.
Disclaimer: The following book review is part of Random House’s book review campaign for the novel “Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom. All opinions in this post remain my own, as no one else could be paid to claim them.
So in writing this review, I find myself in a first time situation on a couple of different fronts. While this isn’t the first time I’ve done a book review, this is the first novel I’ve had the opportunity to review pre-release. Likewise, the is the first book review I’ve done that is any sort of promotion for someone else’s writing. As such, I’m working to find a balance between the objective/promotional side of my writing and the cynical/sarcastic/general buffoonery of my normal writing. I might as well get used to it though — there’s a chance someone could be doing this for me some day.
There’s an old saying that states you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. From a metaphorical standpoint, the idiom is reminding you that just because someone or something looks a certain way, it doesn’t mean that’s their inner personality. Apparently, that cliché applies to actual books too. Who knew?
The back cover of Lucky Us made the novel sound like a cheap mashup between The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath, combining the low points of both novels to create a cheesy coming of age story about two girls seeking adventure. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), the actual story of the book didn’t give off that vibe at all.
Lucky Us focuses on the story of a young woman, Eva, and her struggle to truly find a group of people she can call her family. Along the way, she has various people in her life who are family in the literal sense — a con artist father whose fake Britishness is second only to Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, a mother who abandoned her so that she could live out her lifelong dream of becoming the female Joel Osteen, and a lesbian half-sister, Iris, who, despite being the most relatable and believable character in the book, was largely absent due to her own pursuits for fame, fortune, and love.
While she spent much of the book looking for the stability of a family, it wasn’t until Eva realized that she could be a self-sufficient person (albeit while caring for Iris’ adopted/stolen son, Danny) that Eva began to find a family. While acting as the mother she never had to Danny, Eva found a father figure in one of Iris’ former makeup artists, and a lover/husband in a German man (Gus) who had been deported under false pretenses during World War II. Oh, did I mention said man was also the ex-husband of Iris’ lesbian lover with whom she adopted Danny?
I actually have very few criticisms of the book, however that final sentence highlights my biggest concern. The majority of the characters throughout the book intertwine in rather convoluted ways. At times, keeping track of who is who, who likes/hates who, and who wants who is a bit difficult. Not quite Grey’s Anatomy pre-Lexi Gray’s death difficult, but still pretty damn confusing.
My other qualm with the book came from the book’s ending. Initially, I hated the ending. Eva’s estranged sister returns from England, and everyone lives happily ever after. That said, once I began really analyzing the book, the happy ending where Eva gets her family just feels right. That said, the ending felt a bit rushed, particularly Gus’ return and integration within the picture. Even with that in mind, it’s a minor gripe.
Lucky Us will be released on July 29th, 2014. For more information about the author, Amy Bloom, please visit her website. You can also follow her on Twitter at @AmyBloomBooks, and see other posts in this blog tour either by searching #LuckyUs on Twitter, or by going to the list I’ll be compiling at the bottom of this post.
Other reviews of Lucky Us from 20SB writers:
http://www.poor-unknown.com/luckyus/ Warning: Outbound links from this post don’t appear to work