RoadTrip America

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Fortunate Son, by Walter Mosley


AUDIO CD
READ BY LORRAINE TOUSSAINT
Fortunate Son

This is an appealing story that depicts love in an unusual manner. It tells the tale of two boys, one black and the other white, who for the first six years of their lives are raised as brothers in the home of a prominent white doctor. Born with a hole in his heart, Thomas survives infancy thanks to the skill of Dr. Nolan. Recently widowed, Dr. Nolan falls in love with Thomas' beautiful, dark skinned mother, and she agrees to move in with him and help him raise his infant son, Eric. The differences between Eric and Thomas go beyond the color of their skin and their economic backgrounds. Where Thomas is frail and sensitive, Eric is robust and overwhelming. But both boys idolize each other and never think of their racial or any other differences. When they are in first grade, Thomas' mother dies and his biological father reclaims him, taking him to live in the ghetto. Eric is devastated at his second mother's death as well as at losing his brother.

Walter Mosley shows that he understands the power of love and the feelings of alienation that a life without love can cause. Each boy suffers the loss of their mother and of their friendship in different ways. While Thomas endures the hardships of being forced to live on the streets, Eric, although privileged, is also discontent. Their lives become intertwined again as young adults and the results lead to an exciting and surprising ending.

Through Lorraine Toussaint's excellent narration, we are able to hear the confident charm of Eric and the resilient frailty of Thomas. Each displays feelings of strength and vulnerability at different times. Her reading effectively emphasizes the differences in their personalities as well as in their circumstances.

I recommend this book because it shows that love can exist in many ways. The title, Fortunate Son, suggests a paradox that is so often present in life. What is supposed to bring happiness can sometimes be the cause of despair, and enduring adversity can lead to joy. The author takes the listener on a virtual roadtrip of emotions, ultimately arriving at a welcome, but unexpected destination.

John Mormon
6/4/06

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