Lucky Us

Amy Bloom
  • Review
By – January 8, 2015

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?

Relat­ed content:

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions