Lucky Us, by Amy Bloom, is a thought-provoking novel in many aspects, even through the splashes of humor that created waves of laughter in this reader.
The story line is wonderfully depicted through the two half-sisters, Eva and Iris. They eventually begin a journey across America, from Ohio to California and then to New York City during the 1940s. The somewhat of a farcical story starts at that point in time. Iris is the older of the two, and has visions of becoming a movie star. She is quite efficient at presenting herself to the movie industry world. Eva is more quiet, the type who is along for the ride in the realm of her half-sister’s journey.
I enjoyed the dynamics between the two half-sisters, and how their awkward relationship began, to how it eventually developed. I felt the family dynamics were illuminated quite vividly. Identity is an underlying tone between the sisters, and between some of the other characters.
A man named Francisco befriends Iris during her forays into auditioning and into acting in small roles. He is reliable and becomes attached to the sisters. He becomes a strong force in a familial way.
World War II also becomes part of the story, in Lucky Us, within pages of the last half of the novel. One of the characters is of German descent and is looked upon as less than desirable to the American authorities. He is dealt with in a manner that reflected a basic mode of authoritative hysteria (in my opinion).
America during the 1940s is portrayed quite vividly, from small town America to the big cities in California and New York. The differences in lifestyle between one coast and the other is well-defined. Cultural diversity, morality and social mores are studied within the story.
I enjoyed the novel’s reference to family, and how blood bonds are not necessarily the strong ones that define a family. A family can consist of those we choose to call family members. Often, those bonds can be more of a foundation than the individuals we inherit through ancestral lineage. Those interactions and strengths can last indefinitely and be unconditional in expectations.
The novel jumps back and forth between individuals, correspondence both sent and received, and twists and turns in the lives of the sisters. It vividly depicts the 1940s era of time, and the varied expressions of daily living, including social mores and stigmas.
The book cover is very symbolic. The zebra is an animal representative of balance, strength and individuality. It sees things without filters or flaws, in other words, black and white. The lion is representative of royalty (“king of beasts”), power, courage, authority and so much more. Symbolism is strong within the pages, and the animals depicted on the cover accurately define varied characters.
Amy Bloom’s writing is beautiful, brilliant and often breathtaking. She articulates with precision, yet the precision does not overrule the stunning prose.
I enjoyed this novel! I recommend Lucky Us.