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The Fortunate Ones

by Ed Tarkington

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington X
The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington
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There are currently 30 reader reviews for The Fortunate Ones
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Power Reviewer
Taylor Betty

Captivating Story
I was completely captivated by this book. The prologue grabbed me when Charlie Boykin, an Army soldier, is stunned to learn of the suicide of a prominent Southern senator, a senator he knew well. I immediately wondered what the connection was between the two men.

We tend to be envious of “the fortunate ones”, the ones “born with a silver spoon in their mouths”. This is a strong character study told from the perspective of an outsider who has been granted access to the elitist insiders. Thus, we find that their lives are not as perfect as they appear. Tarkington writes of privilege and ambition, and of how that privilege corrupts.

Charlie, raised by his single mother, finds his life changed when he receives a scholarship to an elite private school. His assigned “big brother” Arch Creigh introduces him to a life where lack of money is not an everyday struggle. The relationships he forms with these families lie at the heart of this book. While at first, Charlie is loving his new life, he eventually is forced to recognize the corruption he sees in the lives of those who consider themselves the elite of society.

The superb writing flowed beautifully with no hiccups to disrupt the stream of the story. Tarkington really brought his characters to life. I had genuine feelings for them as they struggled with their vulnerabilities and frailties. I always love a story that forces one to question their own integrity. Will Charlie take the easy way out? Or will he take a stand against the wrongs he witnesses?

Thank you to the publisher Algonquin Books for an advance copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
Elizabeth S. (East Hartford, CT)

Captivating Retelling of Old Tale
Until I read "The Fortunate Ones" I doubted that any more could be written about a working class boy coming in contact with one "to the manor born." Nor did I think I could be swayed by the irony of the title. I was wrong. From the start of the novel through to its finish I was captured by the first person narration of Charlie Boykin and by his encounters over time with Archie Creigh. It didn't matter that I could tell where the book was headed; this novel depends on character much more than plot. By the time I was done Charlie and Archie came to occupy the same spot in my imagination reserved until now by Gatsby and Nick. They live there still.
Susanna K. (Willow Street, PA)

Fortunate? Dictionary definition: "Bringing some good not foreseen as certain" or "Receiving unexpected good". Charlie Boyton was happy living with his single mother in a low income neighborhood. Surrounded by many caretakers and friends money didn't matter to him. But things changed when he was exposed to another different way of life- wealth! At first he couldn't believe his good "fortune" living in a beautiful estate, experiencing all the frills money could buy. He had it all or so he thought. Continuing his journey throughout the years, you will experience all of his emotions- blissful, saddened, disillusionment, confusion. Even running away didn't give contentment. Fortunate???
Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)

Great read
This was such a good story. I could "see" the characters. The contrast between the lives of Arch and Charlie was well done. I understood Charlie's mother wanting a better life for her son. The twists in the story kept me reading. I couldn't put this book down and will recommend it to my book group.
Pamela C. (Boxborough, MA)

A real page turner!
This book was hard to put down! Many interesting characters and a great peek into the secret lives of rich and powerful people. Charlie Boykin comes to join that world due to his mothers connections and his life changes totally. He becomes involved with Arch Creigh, a charismatic, wealthy and ambitious young man. Charlie learns how to operate in that well to do lifestyle and no matter how hard he tries to let go, he never falls far from Archie's spell.This book is a coming of age story and mystery set in the south. You know a book is good when you don't want it to end!
Nancy D. (Raleigh, NC)

True to Oneself
I don't often read books where the protagonist is a male. I sometimes find them a little difficult. This certainly was not the case with The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Charlie Boykin and his journey through the lives of the "elite" of Nashville. He sacrifices a lot to keep himself in a place where he believed the "grass is always greener". While he invests much into the friendships, it appears he get very little back in return. The relationship between Charlie and his mother is a sad one. She was the true architect of his acceptance into Yeatman and how it impacts both their life. I didn't care for Arch, Jamie, Vanessa or some of the other characters who only seemed to care about themselves, their place in the world, their ambitions and their wants. I believe they all use Charlie in one way of another, but, truly, Charlie not only let them, but seemed to enjoy his new life. However, throughout it all Charlie seems to grow and truly began to understand himself and the life that he was thrown into. A very timely book which deals with present day issue and their impact on everyone's life. But throughout it all, it is Charlie's struggle to be the man he was meant to be that keeps one captivated by this book.
Power Reviewer
Lee M. (Wentzville, MO)

My Charmed Life
Charlie Boykin has graduated from eight grade and he and his friend Terrance are looking forward to high school. He lives in East Nashville with his mother and aunt and he will be attending as a white in a mostly black school again but thinks high school might be different. When his mother brings him to Yeatman School in Belle Mead and tells him he could attend there instead, Charlie never hesitates and never looks back. The book follows Charlie through his 'coming of age' high school and beyond as both he and his mother find it nicer to live on the better side of Nashville. Although he never questions how he became so lucky, will Charlie have to pay the piper? I loved the writing and the story but felt a current of sadness running through the book. Although there was talk of love most of the actions, except for ones on the first few pages, did not feel like love.
Virginia P. (Tallahassee, FL)

The Fortunate Ones
Ed Tarkington is a new author to me and I liked "The Fortunate Ones" so much that I have bought his first book, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." For southern readers, the places and names in his book are very familiar, but the book has universal appeal as it tells a story of misdeeds and redemption. There is a line in the book that sums up the story very well and that is "No great temple was ever built without a few bodies buried beneath its foundation." I highly recommend the book.

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