Lucky Us

Amy Bloom (Away) applies her talent for pithy prose in her third novel, Lucky Us, the story of two half-sisters who survive abandonment, poverty and the travails of World War II with wit and tenacity.

It's 1939, and Eva and her mother scrape by in their Ohio apartment, anticipating her enigmatic father's Sunday visits. At 12, Eva is unaware of their "second family" status until her mother drops her on her father's much grander doorstep and she meets her half-sister, Iris. Their wary relationship settles into one of symbiosis: Iris is the prizewinning singer and thespian, Eva sews on her sequins. Acknowledging their father has been stealing Iris's hidden prize money, one night they climb down the trellis and onto a Hollywood-bound bus.

Blending narrative and correspondence in a nonlinear style, Lucky Us spans a decade and the globe, as Iris's star soars then plummets. Ever-loyal Eva responds to Iris's needs and duplicitous Dad reappears to join them in a road trip east, where they're hired as house staff for a Long Island family. With plenty of the theatrical in them all and joined by a colorful cast of characters, they ably pull off their roles and thrive until disaster strikes. Tragedy sends Iris to London, necessity propels Eva to a successful tarot-card-reading business, and the war looms large, symbolized by their German-American friend Gus, who is unjustifiably deported.

At the close of this heart-warming novel, packed with phrases begging to be underlined and characters bursting with unwavering love, Lucky Us proves to be an apt title. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

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