LUCKY US by Amy Bloom

While I was reading Amy Bloom’s new novel, Lucky Us, I had a few questions: How did a book like Lucky Us get published, as is? Did someone read it – really read it – before it got published? If you’re Amy Bloom, with a few great successes under your belt, does that mean that you get to bypass the editing process?

I really didn’t like Lucky Us much at all. It is supposed to be a jazzy novel set in the 40s about how an unconventional family finds each other and survives the ups and downs of a turbulent America. Eva and Iris, half-sisters with deeply flawed parents, leave their home in Ohio and head to Hollywood, only to head back East when Iris has an affair with a young actress and is then shunned by all of show business. They return to New York and make their living as a governess and a tarot card reader, and their irresponsible but charming father re-enters their lives, and some other people come in and out of it, and honestly I don’t even have the heart to summarize the rest of it.

The relationships in this book were implausible and the plot was meandering and improbable. Characters came and went with no introduction or future relevance. Terrible things happened – a main character died in a fire, a boy was separated from his brother in an orphanage, a German-American is extradited during WWII – but there was barely any emotion expressed about any of it. Iris and Eva become estranged about halfway through – but why? Eva’s anger at Iris makes no sense. Nor does her pining away for a man she believes to be dead.

Lucky Us was a chore to get through. I didn’t care about the characters at all and I was relieved when it was over. There were a few poignant moments throughout the book which were touching and showed Bloom’s potential, but they were so few and far between that I can’t recommend it. I listened to Lucky Us on audio, which I do not think made much of an impact on my enjoyment of the novel. The narration was a bit too perky and cutesy for me, especially during the more serious parts of the book.

Judging by Goodreads, a lot of readers agree with me that there was not much to like about Lucky Us. But some people loved it, so if you’re a diehard Amy Bloom fan, give it a read and then come back and tell me if you liked it. Maybe I am just cranky these days.