Returning to that endless discourse of whether a fiction writer is a good writer or a good storyteller – Walter Mosley is an excellent storyteller. While I have almost a dozen Mosley books on my shelves, Fortunate Son is the third one I have read. The Awkward Black Man and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey were the earlier reads. I had started the collection knowing that Walter Mosley was a mystery and crime fiction writer. Interestingly, none of the 3 books of his that I have read so far fall within those genres. However, what abides in all 3 is Mosley’s top-notch storytelling. Fortunate Son is a fable. A very simple fable. It is the story of two boys from Southern California – one black and the other white – who are as close as brothers at birth while being as different as can be in terms of the hand that fate deals each of them as they grow up.

Thomas is a black kid who is born with severe health complications and soon after he is discharged from the ICU, he and his mother move in with a widowed surgeon whose son, Eric, is the same age as Thomas. Thomas and Eric are as close as brothers while growing up. Suddenly, Thomas’s mother dies and the paths of the boys begin to diverge. Eric grows up effortlessly; academically, socially and otherwise. Progress comes to him easily. For Thomas, it couldn’t be any worse. Soon after his mother’s funeral, his biological father yanks him away from Eric’s home and he moves into a space that is filled not only with a lot of toxicity and abuse but also devoid of any support. A total contrast to what he had been used to. The trauma leads to a downward spiral in his life – he drops out of school, gets involved in drugs and the inevitable incarceration. Away from the other, the boys long for each other and sense a void that can only be filled with a reunion despite all they have to validate which is the nostalgia of growing up together. Their lives are intertwined and only when they reunite is redemption within grasp. On one hand, Fortunate Son is a fable about black and white America. On another hand, it is just a well-told simple tale of two young boys managing the differing hands that fate has dealt them. An enjoyable read, if not exceptional.

3.2/5Fortunate Son 1

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