three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
23-July-Aug-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-FortunateSonBranwyn Beerman, a black flower-shop employee, ushers in the birth of her premature baby, Tommy, under a dark cloud. With a hole in his lung, he’s destined to live a difficult life. White L.A. surgeon Minas Nolan, meanwhile, loses his wife during the birth of their son, Eric. Branwyn and Minas meet, fall in love, and raise their sons as brothers. Then Branwyn dies and, claimed by his real father, Tommy suffers a hardscrabble life on the streets. Despite his run of ill luck, he retains his optimistic outlook. Eric, by contrast, a golden boy born into privilege and good fortune, lives an empty life. Then, in their 20s, they cross paths again and discover their true brotherly bonds.
Little, Brown. 320 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0316114715

Chicago Sun-Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Mosley’s latest novel, Fortunate Son, may accomplish two things: it’ll possibly make you forget Easy Rawlins, and it will break your heart. … It is a brilliant book, rumbling with life, scary and sacred and scented with everything that makes Los Angeles our best heaven and our best hell, a perfect backdrop for Eric’s and Tommy’s dream story." Michael Signor

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s a great credit to Mosley, an articulate storyteller and profound social critic, that Fortunate Son feels organic even at its most convoluted. … This is a fiercely perceptive observation of modern-day America and its black and white world." Clayton Moore

Baltimore Sun 3 of 5 Stars
"A coming-of-age story, Fortunate Son contains an unwieldy blend of ghosts, auras, sex, violence, murder, mayhem, and love. … [Eric’s and Thomas’s] story has two morals: one concerns the ties that bind mothers to sons and brothers to brothers; the other concerns money." Diane Scharper

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Fortunate Son is written in a deceptively simple prose style that could almost qualify it as a young adult book, yet it aspires to address some of the most difficult conundrums in American life. … The idea of the American black man as Christ figure, as a victim who has suffered every privation but is still capable of redeeming all the whites around him, is a powerful and comforting notion." Carolyn See

New York Times 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Mosley gets his most dramatic effects in the most predictable way: he crosscuts repeatedly from Thomas to Eric and back again. The juxtapositions are stark. … By the time he ends the book, Mr. Mosley has compromised its allegorical bluntness by seeking a transcendence that eludes him." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

Walter Mosley, author of the Easy Rawlins mysteries series, tackles a new genre with almost every novel. Like some of his previous work, Fortunate Son explores America’s racial divide, but it does so in a fairy tale or parable about race, fate, luck, love, and redemption. Critics generally agree that Mosley succeeds in this genre; darkness, concise writing, compassion, social criticism, and questions about which son is "fortunate" resound loudly. Only the New York Times faulted Mosley for his stereotypical characters, predictability, and lack of tension. In the end, Fortunate Son may or may not live up to Easy Rawlins, but it remains a strong tale about love transcending all boundaries.