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Fortunate Son: A Novel [NOOK Book]


Tommy's nickname is Lucky, but no one would think this crippled boy was blessed. Cursed with health problems and drawn into trouble more often than not, Tommy is the recipient of pity rather than admiration. He is nothing like his stepbrother Eric.

Eric, a Nordic Adonis, is graced by a seemingly endless...
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Fortunate Son: A Novel

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Tommy's nickname is Lucky, but no one would think this crippled boy was blessed. Cursed with health problems and drawn into trouble more often than not, Tommy is the recipient of pity rather than admiration. He is nothing like his stepbrother Eric.

Eric, a Nordic Adonis, is graced by a seemingly endless supply of good fortune-he is charming, a star athlete, and a magnet for anyone in his sphere. Yet in spite of these differences, Eric and Tommy are as close as two humans can be.

After tragedy rips their makeshift family apart, the lives of these boys split. In a powerful story of modern-day resilience and redemption, Tommy and Eric forge their separate ways in the world, each confronting the challenges of his sphere. For Tommy this means dropping out of school, selling drugs, living on the streets, and somehow creating a family of his own. Motherless, African-American, and impoverished, Tommy has nothing but feels lucky every day of his life. For Eric, the golden youth, life means athletics, sexual attraction, excellent grades, prosperity, and the uncertainty that comes with prizes won too easily. Given everything, he trusts nothing.

Eric and Tommy's parallel lives are an astonishing story of self-determination and the true measure of fortune. The ties that bind this Adonis and his sickly counterpart, however, are thicker than blood, and when circumstances reunite Eric and Tommy after years apart, their distinct approaches to life may be the only thing that can save them from forces that threaten to destroy them for good.

Written with unique insight into the hidden currents and deeper realities of modern life, Fortunate Son is a tour de force by the author the Boston Globe calls "one of this nation's finest writers."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
White Los Angeles heart surgeon Minas Nolan, a very recent widower, meets African-American flower-shop employee Branwyn Beerman when her son Thomas is born prematurely with a hole in his lung, and without a father in his life. Minas has a son, Eric, a week younger than Tommy, and the four, along with enigmatic Vietnamese nanny Ahn, soon form a loving m nage. Following Branwyn's sudden death 50 pages later, Tommy, now six, is plunged into a hardscrabble life when his difficult father, Elton, claims him; he grows up without resentment, talking aloud to Branwyn when he's sad or confused (and sometimes to Elton's on-again, off-again partner, May), but ends up on the streets. Eric, meanwhile, sails through childhood and adolescence, but remains alienated, constantly missing "his brother," even having a child at 16 with Christine, who's a few years older. Knowingly drawing on the genre constraints that drive his Easy Rawlins mysteries, Mosley puts Thomas through trial after trial, and Eric through a kind of chronic heartlessness. Both continually refer to the time they lived together, and each thinks of the other as a real brother. After more than 10 years of separation, they're reunited, but that's not the point: with the lightest, slyest of touches, Mosley shows how a certain kind of inarticulate, carnal, involuntary affection transcends just about anything. It's not love, it's fate, and it's breathtaking. (Apr. 10) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Mosley has written a memorable fable about two "brothers": African American Thomas (a.k.a. "Lucky") Beerman, born with a hole in his lung, who goes as an infant with his mother to live with prominent white doctor Minas Nolan, and Eric, Minas's own baby, a beautiful and talented golden child. After the death of his mother, Thomas is wrenched from Minas's household to that of his estranged biological father. Thomas subsequently spends time in jail and years on the street but remains optimistic and warm hearted. Eric leads a charmed life, but can't seem to connect with those around him. Thomas and Eric are reunited after ten years, to come to a new understanding of fate and fortune. Lorraine Toussaint's reading is soft and understated, hitting just the right notes without too much drama. The program has been awarded an AudioFile Earphones award. Highly recommended.
—Kristen L. Smith
Kirkus Reviews
Mosley's latest departure from his Easy Rawlins mysteries (Cinnamon Kiss, 2005, etc.) is a parable about the ineffable bond between two boys-one white, one black-raised as brothers. A week after Thomas Beerman is born with a hole in his lung and a bleak prognosis for a short life inside a germ-free bubble, heart surgeon Minas Nolan's wife dies in the same West L.A. hospital giving birth to her big, vigorous son Eric, who seems to have sucked all the life out of her. Dr. Nolan and Brianna Beerman soon become friends, then lovers, and when she signs her sickly boy out of the hospital on his advice, he opens his lonely home to her and Tommy. All goes well until Brianna dies when the boys are six and Elton Trueblood, the father who's never done a thing for Tommy, turns up to claim him. The boys' enforced separation is a disaster for them both. Tommy, beaten by his eternally angry father and unable to continue at the school he's been sent to, takes to life on the streets, first hiding out in a private alley he makes his home, then making deliveries for a local drug-dealer. Eric, the golden boy who never has to make any decisions because everyone is drawn to him and everything is handed to him, realizes that his life is empty without Brianna and Tommy, the only people he's ever been able to open his heart to. The brothers' lives diverge in predictable ways (Tommy's physical injuries, prison term and long tenure as a homeless person versus Eric's unstoppable success as student and stud) with constant allegorical overtones en route to an anticlimax. Though he doesn't duplicate the austere power of The Man in My Basement (2004), Mosley makes his simple tale gripping through the studied artlessnessof his storytelling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759515482
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/10/2006
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 521,682
  • File size: 435 KB

Meet the Author

Walter Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. He lives in New York.


When President Bill Clinton announced that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite writers, Black Betty (1994), Mosley's third detective novel featuring African American P.I. Easy Rawlins, soared up the bestseller lists. It's little wonder Clinton is a fan: Mosley's writing, an edgy, atmospheric blend of literary and pulp fiction, is like nobody else's. Some of his books are detective fiction, some are sci-fi, and all defy easy categorization.

Mosley was born in Los Angeles, traveled east to college, and found his way into writing fiction by way of working as a computer programmer, caterer, and potter. His first Easy Rawlins book, Gone Fishin' didn't find a publisher, but the next, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) most certainly did -- and the world was introduced to a startlingly different P.I.

Part of the success of the Easy Rawlins series is Mosley's gift for character development. Easy, who stumbles into detective work after being laid off by the aircraft industry, ages in real time in the novels, marries, and experiences believable financial troubles and successes. In addition, Mosley's ability to evoke atmosphere -- the dangers and complexities of life in the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles -- truly shines. His treatment of historic detail (the Rawlins books take place in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) is impeccable, his dialogue fine-tuned and dead-on.

In 2002, Mosley introduced a new series featuring Fearless Jones, an Army vet with a rigid moral compass, and his friend, a used-bookstore owner named Paris Minton. The series is set in the black neighborhoods of 1950s L.A. and captures the racial climate of the times. Mosley himself summed up the first book, 2002's Fearless Jones, as "comic noir with a fringe of social realism."

Despite the success of his bestselling crime series, Mosley is a writer who resolutely resists pigeonholing. He regularly pens literary fiction, short stories, essays, and sci-fi novels, and he has made bold forays into erotica, YA fiction, and political polemic. "I didn't start off being a mystery writer," he said in an interview with NPR. "There's many things that I am." Fans of this talented, genre-bending author could not agree more!

Good To Know

Mosley won a Grammy award in 2002 in the category of "Best Album Notes" for Richard Pryor.... And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).

Mosley is an avid potter in his spare time.

In our 2004 interview, Mosley reveals:

"I was a computer programmer for 15 years before publishing my first book. I am an avid collector of comic books. And I believe that war is rarely the answer, especially not for its innocent victims."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Johnson State College
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    One of his best

    I am on my third read of this book and each time I am brought to tears. I am a great fan of mr. Mosley and have nothing but praise for his stories and implacable, precise prose ( I read a review here that assults Mosley for his use of...( "to simple...." sentences). Not since Hemingway ( and perhaps Richard Brautigan ) has a writer succeded in cleaving the ' wheat from the chaf' leaving us with the bare bones of emotion exposed. ( mixed metaphor...ooops, sorry Walter.
    Again Mosley uses a relatively simple story as a canvas for much, much larger and important isssues. That this book is considered "young adult" is both a slam and a revelation. I hope every ' young person' is guided to this book and i hope every serious reader finds it.
    Captivating, emotional and entertaing, I hope it one day recieves the kind of adulation it deserves. Please, keep yourself safe and well Mr. are agift to humanity and I expect nothing but greatness for your work. A True ManOf Letters..... thank you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A great insightful character study

    In a West Los Angeles hospital, the wife of white heart surgeon Minas Nolan dies while giving birth to their son Eric. Also in the hospital at that time is one week old African-American Thomas Beerman, who has been born prematurely with a hole in his lung and not expected to live long especially outside a bubble. His single mother flower-shop worker Branwyn meets Minas in the hospital the cardiologist persuades her to come with her son to live in his home with his baby along with their Vietnamese nanny Ahn.---- Six years later, Branwyn suddenly dies. Instead of Tommy staying with the man who raised him with love and nurturing, his biological father Elton Trueblood abruptly claims him as his. Tommy grows up on the streets under the violent tutelage of his abusive father though he ¿talks¿ to his late mother when he needs solace Eric enjoys an upper middle class childhood though he is only sixteen when he sires a child. Eric and Tommy miss one another as they were siblings from birth until Elton entered the scene, but each has traveled a different path towards adulthood.----- This is Mosley at his best, telling an easy tale that seems so simple yet somehow is extremely deep as he makes the case that nurturing is more critical to making the adult than naturing. The ¿siblings¿ make the tale as they grow up in their early years as brothers regardless of the colors of their skins until they are suddenly separated and travel differing paths. Stereotyped as the golden boy and the ghetto boy, only adds to the allegorical depth of a great insightful character study of what makes the man---- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011


    This is the 4th book that I've read by Mosley, my least favorite! The implied supernatural powers of the two main characters "eric & thomas" was difficult to accept--couldn't connect to either. Eric was like some savv type "rainman" & "thomas" was a higher functioning Forrest Gump.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2010

    Classic Walter Mosely

    This being my second Walter Mosely young adult novel, after reading the fantastic novel 47, I really enjoyed this one as well. While it was a different read the boldness of his writing makes it perfect for someone who likes a deep read. By the end of the book I was completely satisfied and took something very valuable from it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2009

    High Energy Fuels Fortunate Son from first page to last

    Have you ever read a book in which a well developed and lovable main character dies within the first 50 pages? Would you believe that Mosely not only does this but does it with such skill that this character knits all other characters and a thrilling plot together through the last sentence of the book? Fortunate Son is impossible to describe. It is unipue in plot development, characterization, and theme. It is popping with suspence, filled with passionate characters, and impossible to predict the direction of. You will not be able to put it down and I guarantee that you will be very sad when you finish the last vivid page and have to.

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  • Posted November 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    All unhappy families

    A family that is not traditional, doses of dysfunction, racism, privilege and a story line that kept me interested from the beginning to the end. A little predictable, great character development and well worth the read.

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  • Posted November 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Thriller

    The characters were sad, yet compelling. The scenes in the story were a little disturbing, but overall the ending was good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    A touching story

    This book reflects so much about our society, racism and the gap between the have and the have nots. You see one born with a silver spoon in his mouth and one who can't catch a break and you're inspired by the latter and his faith in life. I thought the ending wasn't satifying and left you wondering if his misfortune would continue or if things would finally go his way. But, I recommend this book just as someone did to me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2006

    Good Book

    This is my first WM novel and i enjoyed it from beginning to end... I found myself unable to put the book down cause there was alot going on with Thomas and I felt sorry for him as if he were a real life character... The ending was okay but the book is general was good and i recommend it as a reader choice...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2006

    Ending Disaster

    I'm in the 11th grade and had to read the book for a class project. It book it self was well written and a real page turner, but In the ended the story took a terrible turn for the worst and left me to be completely unsatisifed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2006

    Very moving

    This book is so terribly written structurally, with simple, choppy sentences. However, the story is deeply moving. The characters are so well developed and the themes are so powerful that I found my mood changed as I was enveloped in the novel for the 3 days that I spent with it. It helped to provoke lots of reflection on society and relationships. I enjoyed it immensely in spite of the horribly simple sentence structure.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2006

    An selection on audio

    The book was an excellent audio selection. I couldn't turn it off. I was happy, angry, laughing and crying all at the same time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2006

    My 1st Walter Mosley book...

    I loved this book. I found myself wanting to mother Thomas, as my heart went out to this character immediately. I was at times so fearful of what would happen next, I found myself holding my breath! This is also the first review I have ever written, because I wanted so strongly to encourage readers to avoid missing this one. Great writing and a 'must read', as is so often said.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2006


    This is the first book I've read by Walter Mosely, but it certainly won't be my last. The story is a page-turner from beginning to end, the characters are well defined and the story awakens every emotion. I read this book in one day and thoroughly enjoyed it -- I guarantee you will too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2006

    Characters to care for

    Two boys, so different in origin, together by fate, separated by law, growing up in different worlds, co-existing in the same city, finding their way through tangled lives, this is a page turner not for the plot but for the characters. I was afraid to finish this book because of my fear for what the ending could be. No, I won't give it away. This was a journey well taken. Other characters are loved for their cleverness, their antics, their actions. Here, Eric and Thomas are loved for themselves. I deeply cared for them, rejoicing in their victories, suffering in their defeats. The journey was at times exhilarating, at times painful, at times spiritual, and always memorable. Walter Mosley has written a book I won't soon forget, one of my best reads in years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2006

    An endearing tearjerker

    I have read most of Mr. Mosley's novels, but this was the first one that made me cry. This book is as emotionally provoking as his Easy Rawlins Mysteries are exciting and daring. The hard luck story that he tells is one reminiscent of Ellison¿s Invisible Man. Walter Mosley is truly one of American¿s greatest writers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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