Two young sisters set out for fame and fortune in mid-twentieth century America — but this is only the surface story of the funny, sad, and fascinating journey Iris and Eva take in Amy Bloom’s new novel, Lucky Us.
Iris and Eva share a father but have different mothers, and the story begins at the moment they become aware of each other’s existence. Having less than admirable parents, the two set off on their own for Hollywood, where Iris intends to use her beauty to start a film career with Eva as her younger companion. The cast of odd characters they meet along the way rivals a Dickens novel and provides a rich tapestry for the story.
Theme-setting songs from the era like “My Blue Heaven” and “If You Ain’t Got the Do Re Mi” serve as chapter titles. Identity is one important theme of this novel — identities that are constructed, deconstructed, concealed, revealed, and perhaps just plain con artistry. Gus and Reenie, a married couple whom the sisters meet on their journey, will have a significant impact on them and provide one of the story’s most interesting plot twists.
The story ends with some hope of new beginnings for Eva, but leaves us uncertain if this will be the resolution the sisters need.
Bloom’s minimalist style leaves many things unspoken. The prose teases the reader to think about what is not said as well as what is. Lucky Us is a novel of journey and metamorphosis set against the backdrop of America at a pivotal time in history. Iris, Eva, and the people they meet are not movers of society, but people moved around by circumstance and luck. The intriguing title will make you wonder: Are Eva and Iris lucky?