Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Growing Up in an Eccentric Family during the WWII Era

For the first twelve years of her life, Eva lives with a weekend father. When Eva's mother learns that her lover's wife is dead, she grabs Eva and races to her lover's house to find out what it's in it for them. After talking to Eva's father, her mother disappears leaving Eva with her father and half-sister, Iris. From this point on Iris, a would be starlet, is a major factor in Eva's life.

After realizing that their father is stealing money from them, the girls take off for California where Iris becomes an actual starlet. Things are going well until an ill-advised liaison ends Iris' career in Hollywood.

The story is told primarily from Eva's point of view enhanced by letters from other character like her father, Edgar, and her sister, Iris. The book is filled with unusual characters from Francisco, the make-up man who follows the girls when they return to the East coast, to Gus and Renee, a German couple who become close friends and more with the girls.

I found the book fragmented. The portions told by Eva move smoothly, but the letters are a jarring interruption. I'm sure the author used this technique to keep the reader current as to what was happening with the other characters, but it is distancing at best.

The settings both California and later New York city are true to the time period and help ground the story. The plot is diffuse. Eva is growing up, but she appears to have no personal goals other than to keep the family together. As such it makes her an interesting
but not unforgettable character, a child trying to take care of the irresponsible adults.

I enjoyed the book, but I would only recommend it if you like coming-of-age stories, or are interested in the lives of people during WWII.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.