The Fortunate Ones is not a book I would typically pick up, but Algonquin Books sent me a copy and I’m so glad they did. This is a fabulous book.
This is the coming of age story of Charlie Boykin. Born to a teenage mom , he lives with his mom and aunt in poorer side of Nashville. When the opportunity to attend an elite boys school for high school, Charlie is taken from his current world into the world of status, money, and privilege. The relationships and experiences he gains from this ‘elite’ world is what undertones this story. Charlie is stuck between wanting to belong to this new world while also trying to rationalize the stark difference between his ‘before’ and ‘after’.
Tarkington has put together a brilliant display of the decay of the Southern White elite. He highlights the hypocrisy that takes place within this ‘world’ and perfectly shows Charlies internal conflict of his caused by his self-awareness and the struggle to justify his good fortunate.
As an outsider it’s his, Charlie’s, want to belong within this new world that blinds him to aspects of this new world. As we go through the book though, Charlie’s growth is evident and we see his guilt and regrets of hindsight. We also see his revaluation of what privilege has brought for him.
The cliques and type casted characters that Tarkington places within this book are also perfectly aligned with the imaginary of your traditional ‘Southern Elite’. Normally this would make the book slightly unoriginal, but the way Tarkington has implemented these cliques into the story, help to build up narrative he’s trying to paint. His relastic depicts of how anyone would act during these situations really drives home the point: If you were offered a golden path to success wouldn’t you take it?
This is really a fantastic story and it’s a great read to start 2020 with. This book is out now!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on The Fortunate Ones. Huge thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.