Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Title : Lucky Us
Author : Amy Blom
Series : N/A, Standalone
Genre : Historical Fiction
Number of Pages : 256
Publication Date : July 29th, 2014
Publisher : Random House

Rating :

I received this book as a free copy from NetGalley. These books are given to me as review copies to read and evaluate. I am not obligated to write a review for any of the books I receive, but it is an encouraged practice. I choose which books I review on my blog and on my Goodreads profile. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews. My reviews are always honest...I never lie about books. My opinions are my own and may be positive or negative depending on my feelings about a specific piece. Keep in mind, just because I may like or not like a book may not mean that you will feel the same way.

"My father's wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us."

Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star, and Eva, the sidekick, journey across 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris's ambitions take them from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensous Hollywood, across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war.

                                                                                                           - Abbreviated blurb from Goodreads

Alright, I'm not even sure where to start with this one. I guess first off, the blurb. You can see it's an "abbreviated" one. Usually when I do this it's just because it's too darned long. This time...well, it's more because more than half of the blurb doesn't tell you anything about the story, it just talks hype about how "thrilling and resonant" the novel is and what "gorgeous writing" is in it. That should have been a giant red flag for me, but I ignored it. Let me just say that I disagree with the majority of the fluff they put in the full blurb.

I normally don't have to give a synopsis of the book, but this blurb was totally lacking. There is very little here to work with. Here's the gist: Iris is the daughter of a very wealthy man (the result of his wife's family's affluence). Eva is her half-sister, the result of their father's affair with Eva's very poor mother. When Iris's mother dies, Eva's mother abandons her with her father and disappears. This is the first time Iris and Eva meet. Eva is 12 at the time. Iris is a few years older. Their father is a conman and Iris gets tired of him stealing the money that she earns, so she runs away to Hollywood with Eva in tow. Her dream is to become a star. In Hollywood, as often happens, Iris's dreams don't wind up coming true in the way she expected. Things don't quite go as planned. That's when the journey really begins.

It's not the full synopsis, but that will get you started. I don't like to give too much away and this book moves and changes so quickly that much more could basically write the first half of the book for you.

This one was just okay. I was really interested when I first saw it mentioned over at NetGalley. That quoted sentence is just powerful. So many options. It had good potential and good pieces, but there were too many awkward things.

The characters were actually good. I liked them. Well...I liked the idea of them. I really didn't like Iris, she was an awful person and a pretty big mess. But the characters had good potential. That potential just wasn't explored. The writing seemed to be in a big hurry, so they were very thin. There wasn't much languid description and I felt that the book really needed that.

The writing throughout was a bit disheveled. It was choppy and unorganized. Some of the chapters probably could have been left out altogether without affecting the story. In fact, there were a few that left me more confused and/or frustrated, so their omission may have made the story stronger.

The narration switched back and forth between first person and third person quite frequently. This wasn't helpful. It made it very hard to know exactly which character you were dealing with at the beginning of each chapter. It makes the reader have to work a little harder to read the book. When your reader has to work, they start to lose interest.

About a third of the way in, I wrote this in my notebook... "What in the world am I reading? This reads like some weirdo acid trip." That's probably my best synopsis right there. It is random and spotty. There are a couple of random gratuitous and raunchy sex scenes that are thrown in abruptly. They could have been altered to be more effective and less distracting.

I think I could have looked past some of the flaws and rated the book a little higher, but then came the ending. It was way too quick and didn't have enough detail. Nothing bothers me more than a lazy ending. In this case, I wasn't happy with the ending at all.

For all the promise in that first sentence, I was really let down. That frustrates me because I feel like the story line really could have been turned into something quite good. The building blocks are there. The execution was just lacking. It took me a bit of time to figure out exactly how I wanted to handle this one. I didn't hate it, but I won't read it again. I ended up deciding on 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.


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