Lucky Us Book Review
Lucky Us: A Novel
Lucky Us has one of the best opening lines I've read for a while: "My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.” That opening line tells you a great deal about the type of characters we are dealing with as well as the actions that shape their lives.
Eva and Iris are sisters who only share a father. Eva, the younger sister and main character, grew up with her mother in a modest home, with her father visiting only on Sundays. Iris grew up with him full-time, as he was married to her mother, and lived in a lavish home bought and paid for with her mother's money. Eva and Iris are suddenly thrown into sisterhood and handle it with aplomb, becoming fast friends and co-conspirators on a wide variety of more and more elaborate plans and schemes. Their paths take them cross country more than once and enable them to reinvent themselves and pick up a variety of oddball characters and adopted family members along the way.
This reinvention was what I found the most compelling about this novel. It takes place in the 1940's, during and after World War II. While the sisters are mostly shielded from the nastiness of the war, there are elements of the story that are very closely tied to the war in Europe. Almost every character goes through a radical reinvention or transformation of self, whether it is a new name, a new career, new family roles, or even something as simple as presenting oneself differently through artfully applied makeup. The characters move fluidly through these changes, which are brought on not by whimsy, but by necessity. The times were not good for a family like this - when you think of the post-war period in America, you think of a mom, a dad, a house, two kids, a dog and a white picket fence. This is not that, but this family tends to make do anyway. It was a very satisfying read and kept me engaged from cover to cover.