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“The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide “The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide audience, and to see what he does next.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?   But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?   The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.


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“The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide “The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide audience, and to see what he does next.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?   But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?   The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

30 review for The Fortunate Ones

  1. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I thoroughly enjoyed Tarkington’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, so I thought I’d love this one, but I didn’t. I’m clearly an outlier here as evidenced by the number of high ratings this book has garnered on Goodreads. No, it’s not “a fresh and sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby “ as the description reads . Full disclosure: The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel and I always resent any comparison. I felt at times Tarkington tried too hard to write a similar story. I clearly came to this with a I thoroughly enjoyed Tarkington’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, so I thought I’d love this one, but I didn’t. I’m clearly an outlier here as evidenced by the number of high ratings this book has garnered on Goodreads. No, it’s not “a fresh and sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby “ as the description reads . Full disclosure: The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel and I always resent any comparison. I felt at times Tarkington tried too hard to write a similar story. I clearly came to this with a built in bias, so please read the other reviews. Aside from that bias, I felt as if I’ve read this book before, but that’s not possible. It was just published. Yet, it felt familiar. Charlie, a poor boy makes it into the circle of the rich with a scholarship to a private school, a seemingly warm welcome into the clique, even a home there and a place for his single mother. Half way through, he discovers, as does the reader that things are not as he believed and the bubble bursts at least for him. He leaves for Mexico to pursue his dream of being an artist, and I was heartened that Charlie was able to escape the grips of this crowd. But he returns years later when his mother becomes ill and he is once again in the grips of the people he left. I was disappointed that he gave in so easily, but this book is filled with flawed characters. There’s a lot to chew on here - politics, the have and the have nots, alcoholism, depression, friendship and love. There’s also redemption, but it felt too late. The damage had already been done. In spite of my disappointment, I have to give it 3 stars since I always cared about Charlie and wanted to know how he got to the place in his life at the beginning of the novel when he recounts his past. I received a copy of this book from Algonquin through Edelweiss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I picked this book up to read the first few pages because I wasn't into my current read. What began as a few pages, turned into the prologue, then the first couple chapters and when I looked up 40ish minutes later, I was on page 60. I couldn't get enough of this story. I read the whole book in two days and it was a marvelous story. This was on its way to being a 5 star read and while the writing was superb, I think there was a missed opportunity. (I will explain that in a moment.) Charlie Boykin I picked this book up to read the first few pages because I wasn't into my current read. What began as a few pages, turned into the prologue, then the first couple chapters and when I looked up 40ish minutes later, I was on page 60. I couldn't get enough of this story. I read the whole book in two days and it was a marvelous story. This was on its way to being a 5 star read and while the writing was superb, I think there was a missed opportunity. (I will explain that in a moment.) Charlie Boykin grew up in pretty meager beginnings. He never met his father, and his mother ran away from home for getting pregnant before she was married. She moved into an apartment with her cousin and raised Charlie with the help of neighbors. He went to a mostly Black school and was picked on, but found protection in Terrence. Charlie had a good life and then one day, the course of everything he had ever known changed with his acceptance into one of the most prestigious schools in the state. It is the relationships he forms here that underscore the theme of this book. So before I get into what I want to say regarding my "criticism", I want to make it known that I loved this book. I really, really did. I was absolutely riveted and couldn't wait to get back to this story every time I had to set it down. If you love coming of age stories, there is no doubt that you should read this. I also think this would also make a fantastic book club book because there is a lot of discussion worthy topics. As Charlie got older, I grew increasingly frustrated with him and the last third of the book is where I wanted more. In my opinion, the author missed an opportunity with Charlie's silence in standing by almost everything his best friend, Archer did. While I don't disagree that the "fortunate ones" in life suffer, I don't know what other term to use but the book being a little 'tone deaf'? I feel like that sounds unnecessarily harsh because I did really love this book, but with all the suffering of minority communities (which has more of a spotlight this year I was less receptive to a story about the plight of rich, white people. I'm struggling with how to explain it, but I wanted Charlie to dig in a little harder and maybe I'm projecting on to him what I hope I would have done in his place? Maybe Charlie wasn't that person after all. But I felt his conscience was and I wanted that awareness spoken out loud and I wanted Terrance more a part of the story than he was. I think many will enjoy (as I surely did), but I would be interested to see if anyone who reads this book (and then my review) share the same feelings. Were you left wanting more? Thank you to Algonquin Books and Ed Tarkington for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. Review Date: 12/30/2020 Publication Date: 01/05/2021

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars ”And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.” -- Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men This story begins with two men pulling up in front of a house, the third time in a month they were sent out on an errand to deliver unwanted news. By the time they stopped in front of this house 4.5 Stars ”And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.” -- Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men This story begins with two men pulling up in front of a house, the third time in a month they were sent out on an errand to deliver unwanted news. By the time they stopped in front of this house, several neighbors had seen them drive by, and the chain of phone calls had begun, and casseroles were busy being prepared, along with the right words of comfort. The mother knew what they were coming to tell her as soon as she saw them pull up in front of their house. Still, this isn’t a book about war, but 1969 is the year, and the Vietnam war factors into this story’s beginnings, and of Charlie Boykin’s beginnings, as well. It’s the story of life, and first love, or loves, and a fatherless boy who grows up in a relatively impoverished neighborhood and is a target for beatings by other students. Soon after, through the courtesy of others, he is attending Yeatman, a prestigious school where he meets students with more affluent parents, bigger houses and a sense of privilege. ’If not for that day, I would never have left East Nashville for Belle Meade, nor would I have understood how much the conditions of life in one world depend on the whims of those who live in another.’ Arch Creigh is the young man who becomes his designated “big brother,” tasked with showing Charlie around at Yeatman, and befriends him, offering him advice, and making a path for him to ‘fit in’ among his friends. As years go by, they end up taking different paths in life for a time, one becomes an artist, the other has aspirations of life in politics. Whether or not it is his intent to help others or a hunger to help himself remains to be seen. Almost five years ago I read Tarkington’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart which really impressed me. His stories lie somewhere between darker southern grit-lit and a light read, but there is a building sense of intensity that permeates these pages. In both stories, the twists and turns of Tarkington’s writing skills managed to take me by surprise, while at the same time his stories seem so grounded in the eternal truth of Robert Penn Warren’s words. Pub Date: 5 Jan 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Algonquin Books / Workman Press

  4. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars. Ed Tarkington's new book, The Fortunate Ones , was a great book to start off 2021 with! Charlie was growing up in a poor neighborhood in East Nashville with his single mother, and didn’t really think about what more life could offer. But when his mother gets him a scholarship to The Yeatman School, an exclusive private school, his life changes tremendously. Suddenly he realizes the ease by which people of privilege move through the world, seemingly impervious to problems and rules an 4.5 stars. Ed Tarkington's new book, The Fortunate Ones , was a great book to start off 2021 with! Charlie was growing up in a poor neighborhood in East Nashville with his single mother, and didn’t really think about what more life could offer. But when his mother gets him a scholarship to The Yeatman School, an exclusive private school, his life changes tremendously. Suddenly he realizes the ease by which people of privilege move through the world, seemingly impervious to problems and rules and consequences. He quickly is taken under the wing of Archer Creigh, and the Haltoms, an affluent family. His relationship with Arch is part friendship and part hero worship, and he becomes a surrogate son to the Haltoms—a relationship complicated when they try to bring him and his mother even further into their circle. But as Charlie is about to step into a life he could have only dreamed of, he realizes how tired he already is of the secrets and subterfuge that characterize the world of privilege. Yet too often, Arch’s magnetism pulls him back, so ultimately he has to decide whether he wants to live a life he is now expected to or one he wants to, and what implications that may have on his relationships with family and friends. The Fortunate Ones was a great coming-of-age novel, one that almost felt like a book written years ago when stories were simpler, but with a modern touch. It’s a story of friendship and love, loyalty and family, privilege and responsibility. No one is 100 percent likable but how many people really are? I’m a big fan of Tarkington; his first book, Only Love Can Break Your Heart was excellent, too. This story had me hooked from start to finish. I was pleased to be part of the blog tour for this book. Algonquin Books provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available! The book publishes 1/5/2021. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. Check out my list of the best books of the last decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    4.5 stars A Southern exposé in a certain way, with grace and pain wrapped between frankly beautiful written pages. I was not expecting to love this story of a white man in the South, but there are some kernels here and no one was more surprised to find them than me. Characters: ★★★★ 1/2 Writing: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★★★★ For those who know me here on Goodreads and in the book community, you might be thinking this really isn't my type of read. (You're totally right) A book written by a white dude, about a w 4.5 stars A Southern exposé in a certain way, with grace and pain wrapped between frankly beautiful written pages. I was not expecting to love this story of a white man in the South, but there are some kernels here and no one was more surprised to find them than me. Characters: ★★★★ 1/2 Writing: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★★★★ For those who know me here on Goodreads and in the book community, you might be thinking this really isn't my type of read. (You're totally right) A book written by a white dude, about a white dude in Nashville, Tennessee, with lots of white privilege and classism?? Amy, come on. Well I had to eat my hat with this one, folks, because this was stunning. Beautifully written, poignantly described, and filled with an unbelievably delicate balance of self-awareness and reflection on the hypocrisy and decay of the Southern white elite, The Fortunate Ones is a read that will no doubt be a focus of discussion in 2021. Charlie Boykin grows up in a poorer part of Nashville with his single mother, Bonnie. Bonnie got pregnant at 15 and was thrown out of her rich family's house and told never to return. Charlie never knows anything different—his Aunt Sunny is a bar singer, his mother is a cocktail waitress at a bar nicknamed The Divorcee, and his best friend, Terrence, is a Black kid with a lot of heart who looks out for Charlie. Then Charlie's life dramatically changes in high school. His mother has managed to snag him a need-based scholarship to Yeatman, an all-boy prep school known for housing Nashville's elite children with ties to old money and the Old South. Charlie has no idea what he's in for. In a move that should feel derivative of The Great Gatsby but manages to stand alone and supersede it, Charlie's life as the "outsider" passes as he reflects on, admires, craves, and worms his way into the glamorous and decaying life of Nashville's rich. His tie to his close friend and occasional secret lover, Archer Creigh, becomes one of unbalanced love and manipulation as Charlie falls deeper and deeper into a world that he's aware is wrong, racist, and fueled by the pain of the lower classes—and yet the lure of the glitz is too much for him to ignore. Spanning decades and locations, The Fortunate Ones feels like an epic wrapped in a mere 300 pages. Charlie is—surprisingly, for me as a woman from a lower middle class background—a likeable narrator to follow. He's both aware of his privilege and yet aware enough of his ignorance to own up to his blindness in certain arenas. The people of color in this novel are marginalized and relegated to stereotypical Southern roles, and we as readers are uncomfortably aware of that boundary line even as young Charlie and old Charlie miss most of it. The women of this novel are trapped in the gossamer cage of the trophy, the accessory, the beautiful—and while Charlie catches some of that and misses most of it, Tarkington's skill as an author highlights it for us despite his own narrator's ignorance. I found that extremely well done. Another element to this story was its fringe revelations in the handling of its gay and lesbian characters. In a society where sexuality is strictly forced into a heteronormative binary, Tarkington's way of highlighting that rot and hypocrisy by having Archer's sexuality bleed through the edges of the page was fascinating, along with Charlie's interactions with a mentor figure who exists as a lesbian amongst this world of "good old boys." I really can't talk about this element without spoilers, but wanted to highlight that it's here for those who would automatically dismiss the story as not including that element. (I totally did that, honestly, so I'm raising my own hand.) What a beautiful, lingering piece of fiction. Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  6. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)

    Charlie Botkin is having a tough time adjusting to ninth grade at an elite prep school. His transition is awkward because he is on scholarship and from a working-class family. All that changes when Archer is assigned as his big brother. Charlie is drawn to Archer’s charm and kindness and also gets access to his privileged background. Charlie finds himself spending time in the upscale town of Belle Meade, Tennessee where he indulges in private parties, country clubs, and luxury vacations. Charlie’ Charlie Botkin is having a tough time adjusting to ninth grade at an elite prep school. His transition is awkward because he is on scholarship and from a working-class family. All that changes when Archer is assigned as his big brother. Charlie is drawn to Archer’s charm and kindness and also gets access to his privileged background. Charlie finds himself spending time in the upscale town of Belle Meade, Tennessee where he indulges in private parties, country clubs, and luxury vacations. Charlie’s mother is still prominent in his life. She ran away to Nashville when she was a pregnant teenager. She found work as a cocktail waitress and was the catalyst for him to apply for a scholarship to a private school. Later in life, Charlie learns of the tragic death of Archer who was running for the US Senate. This event uncovers secrets from the past including the details of his scholarship. The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington is about lifelong friendships. The book explores how people change and relationships evolve. I enjoyed this book and all the wonderful characters.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This is one of those books that I thought after reading the prologue that it was going to be another not-so-subtle political diatribe and not my type of book - I was wrong. This book echoes the classic platitude of be careful what you wish for, as money does not buy happiness. In the 1960s, a teenage mom living in the South becomes pregnant by a boy drafted to Vietnam and never to be seen again. Her father is unrelenting about her raising a child out of wedlock in his house, so she chooses to be This is one of those books that I thought after reading the prologue that it was going to be another not-so-subtle political diatribe and not my type of book - I was wrong. This book echoes the classic platitude of be careful what you wish for, as money does not buy happiness. In the 1960s, a teenage mom living in the South becomes pregnant by a boy drafted to Vietnam and never to be seen again. Her father is unrelenting about her raising a child out of wedlock in his house, so she chooses to become a runaway. Years later after a rough go of it, her son, Charlie, is accepted into an elite private school in Nashville, thanks to wealthy donors. Charlie's assigned "big brother," Arch, is the BMOC, a football star, and opens all the doors for a whole new world for Charlie and his mother. As Charlie and his mother immerse themselves in their new privileged life though, the flaws of their new friends come to light, and Charlie struggles as his perception is overly skewed by loyalty. As more corruption surrounding Archer, his family, and circle of friends, come to light though, he begins to question his own morals. Charlie becomes so disillusioned that he eventually makes a series of life-changing decisions with monumental effects. This book is really a deep soul-search into the meaning in life. Oddly, I came to love some of the "villains" of the story, and rather dislike the "good guy." It has a bittersweet ending and really is a cautionary tale for anyone enamored with "living the high life." This was my first Ed Tarkington reading experience, and I enjoyed it much more than I anticipated, as it truly is a remarkably touching and realistic picture of the angst that goes hand in hand with suddenly being pulled from poor to privileged. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    First 5 ⭐️ Book of 2020! This opens up with the end- a conservative Republican senator has ended his life, and a soldier begins to cry when he hears the news. The story flashes back to the soldier’s school days at an elite boys school in Nashville. Charlie Boykin is from the “wrong side of the tracks” and manages to get into the school on scholarship. He’s quickly drawn into an intense friendship with Archer Creigh- a charismatic upperclassman who’s all too happy to show him the ropes. He quickly First 5 ⭐️ Book of 2020! This opens up with the end- a conservative Republican senator has ended his life, and a soldier begins to cry when he hears the news. The story flashes back to the soldier’s school days at an elite boys school in Nashville. Charlie Boykin is from the “wrong side of the tracks” and manages to get into the school on scholarship. He’s quickly drawn into an intense friendship with Archer Creigh- a charismatic upperclassman who’s all too happy to show him the ropes. He quickly gets enmeshed in the lives of his classmates when a scandal threatens to upend it all. The novel fast forwards to 10 years later, where we pick up with the characters and see how their lives turned out. This was surprisingly emotional! I loved Charlie and could really relate to his desire to go along with the crowd to fit in. I haven’t cared about a character this much since Cyril Avery from The Hearts Invisible Furies. This is deeper than “rich people behaving badly”, there’s commentary on class, wealth, privilege, toxic masculinity, politics, and corruption. I would have loved to see more depth from the female characters, but they weren’t the focus in this one. All told, I really loved this lush and layered coming-of-age story. [TW: suicide, loss of pregnancy, death of a parent]

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    This was an exceptional story that really grabbed me from the beginning. The writing is superb, and a great character driven story I really enjoyed. The story is centered on Charlie Boykin, a son of a pregnant runaway, who was given an opportunity of a lifetime by being accepted into one of Nashvilles’s elite and most prestigious schools. In this story, Ed Tarkington writes about a great coming-of-age story that highlights wealth and privilege, friendships and loyalties, morality and corruption, This was an exceptional story that really grabbed me from the beginning. The writing is superb, and a great character driven story I really enjoyed. The story is centered on Charlie Boykin, a son of a pregnant runaway, who was given an opportunity of a lifetime by being accepted into one of Nashvilles’s elite and most prestigious schools. In this story, Ed Tarkington writes about a great coming-of-age story that highlights wealth and privilege, friendships and loyalties, morality and corruption, in a façade we are all drawn in to belong and feel accepted. This was an irresistible read that drew me in to the complex cost of becoming one of the rich and powerful. Tarkington is truly a masterful storyteller with a keen eye on characters and conflicted emotions. Well done!! I was provided a copy by Algonquin Books/ Workman Press. My reviews are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    This book caught my eye when I read it’s a take on The Great Gatsby (is also blurbed by Kevin Wilson.) The Fortunate Ones is a southern coming-of-age novel that explores friendship, family, love and loyalty. This story dives deep into how having wealth and privilege not only distorts morality, but gave the privileged elite belief there are no consequences due to their birthright. Politics and scandal also play important roles in the storyline. This is incredibly thought-provoking, and an all aro This book caught my eye when I read it’s a take on The Great Gatsby (is also blurbed by Kevin Wilson.) The Fortunate Ones is a southern coming-of-age novel that explores friendship, family, love and loyalty. This story dives deep into how having wealth and privilege not only distorts morality, but gave the privileged elite belief there are no consequences due to their birthright. Politics and scandal also play important roles in the storyline. This is incredibly thought-provoking, and an all around interesting story. Would be perfect for book clubs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This was a compelling story about wealth, power, privilege, and entitlement; and the story of a young man not born to those things who is pulled into that world. I have spent a lot of the last 4 years questioning what has happened to people’s moral compass. This book explores blurry lines and how they are crossed, each time a little more easily than the last, until it’s forgotten that a line was even there. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways and Algonquin Books for a copy of the ARC.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary McBride

    4.5 What a great study of the illusions of entitlement. A young boy is given a great or so he thinks, opportunity to become one of the fortunate ones. Prep school and free ride to elite college.. But as he matures, he becomes aware of what privilege is and and are the sacrifices worth the payoff? This will be a great one for book clubs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

    4.5 / 5 stars This book ticked all the boxes for me. Some reviewers say it's reminiscent of The Great Gatsby - and I can see that in terms of theme - but I was reminded more of the late Pat Conroy. This was such a well-written coming-of-age story... definitely one to sink into the pages and lose yourself! 4.5 / 5 stars This book ticked all the boxes for me. Some reviewers say it's reminiscent of The Great Gatsby - and I can see that in terms of theme - but I was reminded more of the late Pat Conroy. This was such a well-written coming-of-age story... definitely one to sink into the pages and lose yourself!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    More like 4.5. I really liked this coming-of-age story set mostly in Nashville about Charlie, a poor, fatherless boy living on the wrong side of town with his pretty mother and wannabe singer aunt. Charlie's prospects change when his mother gets a job being the "helper" of a rich woman. The job comes with definite perks: Charlie and his mother now live in the pool house of the wealthy family and Charlie attends a prestigious private school on scholarship. Charlie also befriends Vanessa and Jamie, More like 4.5. I really liked this coming-of-age story set mostly in Nashville about Charlie, a poor, fatherless boy living on the wrong side of town with his pretty mother and wannabe singer aunt. Charlie's prospects change when his mother gets a job being the "helper" of a rich woman. The job comes with definite perks: Charlie and his mother now live in the pool house of the wealthy family and Charlie attends a prestigious private school on scholarship. Charlie also befriends Vanessa and Jamie, the twins who live in the big house. Charlie's most significant relationship, though, is with Archer, who is tapped to guide Charlie through the intricacies of school life. Archer, though, teaches Charlie much more than the school fight song, introducing him to live among the rich and privileged. This is an engrossing read that examines boyhood friendship, first love, the choice between following what's expected and following one's own dreams, truths and secrets, rich and poor, white and black. Excellent story and highly recommended. For my thoughts on the audiobook, see AudioFile Magazine.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves

    [4.5 stars] I adored Tarkington’s debut novel, Only Love Can Break Your Heart (my review), so I was excited to read his take on “wealthy people behaving badly” and “rich, unsupervised teens” (thank you, Bad on Paper Podcast, for this perfect phrase!). The premise of this story reminded me of the Gossip Girl TV series…only set in Nashville. And, Charlie Boykin is reminiscent of Dan Humphrey and his “outsider observing wealthy people behaving badly” status. The Fortunate Ones is a character-driven [4.5 stars] I adored Tarkington’s debut novel, Only Love Can Break Your Heart (my review), so I was excited to read his take on “wealthy people behaving badly” and “rich, unsupervised teens” (thank you, Bad on Paper Podcast, for this perfect phrase!). The premise of this story reminded me of the Gossip Girl TV series…only set in Nashville. And, Charlie Boykin is reminiscent of Dan Humphrey and his “outsider observing wealthy people behaving badly” status. The Fortunate Ones is a character-driven novel that’s easy to fly through and a cautionary tale about privilege run amok. It follows the characters from their private school adolescence into adulthood and delves into the dirtiness of politics. Tarkington is an astute observer of human nature and social behavior, which is apparent in his spot-on commentary on race, class, and privilege. Tarkington’s voice was what really made me love Only Love Can Break Your Heart and it’s back in full force in The Fortunate Ones.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ☕️Hélène⚜️

    What a day I’ve had anyways today is my stop. ✨The Fortune Ones✨ Author: @edtarkington Pub date :January 5, 2021 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I really enjoyed this book the tight friendships built between two worlds the rich and the poor. Does it last? It can. At first I was confused but the story became clear. #thefortunateones @algonquinbooks #books #bookstagram

  17. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Zavala

    The Fortunate Ones is a coming of age novel that follows Charlie Boykin from his entry into a private high school through adulthood. Honestly, I wasn't sure how much I would be interested in reading about privileged white boys in Nashville, but I was immediately intrigued by the prologue. When Charlie is unexpectedly accepted on scholarship to an elite private school, it triggers a confluence of events that change the trajectory of his life. The Fortunate Ones is a solid 4⭐ read. I did find the end The Fortunate Ones is a coming of age novel that follows Charlie Boykin from his entry into a private high school through adulthood. Honestly, I wasn't sure how much I would be interested in reading about privileged white boys in Nashville, but I was immediately intrigued by the prologue. When Charlie is unexpectedly accepted on scholarship to an elite private school, it triggers a confluence of events that change the trajectory of his life. The Fortunate Ones is a solid 4⭐ read. I did find the ending a bit rushed and left wanting a tiny bit more. Tarkington's writing flows smoothly and easily brings the characters to life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Who, you may ask, are The Fortunate Ones? In Mr. Tarkington's world, they're wealthy white Southern masters of the universe. in the real world, they're anyone who skips this yawn of a novel which revives (exhumes?) the ancient trope of a poor boy entering a world of privilege and learning (hope you're sitting down) that money can't buy happiness. The author does bring something to this shopworn tale that Alan Hollinghurst, Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald and several hundred other authors whom Who, you may ask, are The Fortunate Ones? In Mr. Tarkington's world, they're wealthy white Southern masters of the universe. in the real world, they're anyone who skips this yawn of a novel which revives (exhumes?) the ancient trope of a poor boy entering a world of privilege and learning (hope you're sitting down) that money can't buy happiness. The author does bring something to this shopworn tale that Alan Hollinghurst, Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald and several hundred other authors whom I'm too lazy to Google lacked - blandness. His narrator, a walking dishrag named Charlie Boykin (cute, huh?), has so little personality that when he does initiate action, you wonder if you skipped the chapter where he was abducted by aliens and implanted with a remote control. I suppose I should like this novel because Mr. Tarkington seems to hale from the same side of the political spectrum as me, and he takes a couple of cheap shots at Fred Thompson and Bill Frist. I've never had more sympathy for either man.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liz Hein

    The Fortunate Ones is the story of average Charlie, and what happens when is he suddenly thrust into high society Nashville and is taken underneath the wing of Arch, a wealthy upperclassmen. Obviously, the shine doesn’t last long. It’s the story of pride, family, and trying to rise above one’s station. I’m guessing a lot of people will love this, but for me it was too polite at best a look at privilege. I didn’t realize this going in, but it’s a loose Gatsby retelling and still misses that mark The Fortunate Ones is the story of average Charlie, and what happens when is he suddenly thrust into high society Nashville and is taken underneath the wing of Arch, a wealthy upperclassmen. Obviously, the shine doesn’t last long. It’s the story of pride, family, and trying to rise above one’s station. I’m guessing a lot of people will love this, but for me it was too polite at best a look at privilege. I didn’t realize this going in, but it’s a loose Gatsby retelling and still misses that mark pretty widely. There are also some major triggers in this book that would not be apparent from the synopsis.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    If I had just read the blurb alone, I would never have picked this book. Books about rich people or rich people behaving poorly are not really my thing but this was Annie’s (owner of The Bookshelf) Shelf Subscription pick for December. This book was way more than rich people behaving poorly and it’s one I’d like to discuss with others because there is quite a bit to unpack here. Would be good for a book club discussion, as well. I genuinely cared for most of the characters (especially Charlie) a If I had just read the blurb alone, I would never have picked this book. Books about rich people or rich people behaving poorly are not really my thing but this was Annie’s (owner of The Bookshelf) Shelf Subscription pick for December. This book was way more than rich people behaving poorly and it’s one I’d like to discuss with others because there is quite a bit to unpack here. Would be good for a book club discussion, as well. I genuinely cared for most of the characters (especially Charlie) and what happened to them along the way.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Reid

    Charlie Boykin lives on the wrong side of the tracks or, at least, in the wrong part of Nashville. His mother fled her affluent life at 15 because she was pregnant with Charlie and defiantly unwilling to part with him. For over a decade she lived a hand-to-mouth life, raising Charlie, working as a waitress, living with her cousin, an aspiring singer who never moves beyond the local bar scene. Then Charlie lucks out. His mother dresses them both in their Sunday best and takes her son to an intervi Charlie Boykin lives on the wrong side of the tracks or, at least, in the wrong part of Nashville. His mother fled her affluent life at 15 because she was pregnant with Charlie and defiantly unwilling to part with him. For over a decade she lived a hand-to-mouth life, raising Charlie, working as a waitress, living with her cousin, an aspiring singer who never moves beyond the local bar scene. Then Charlie lucks out. His mother dresses them both in their Sunday best and takes her son to an interview at the exclusive private boys' school, Yeatman. Much to his surprise, he is admitted to the school on full scholarship. Better yet, he is paired with Archer Creigh, a cultured young man with the pedigree of Nashville royalty. Arch is kind and benevolent, and takes Charlie under his wing. He also introduces him into the Haltom family, a nouveau riche addition to the Belle Meade community. Jim Haltom is his benefactor, for reasons that Charlie does not interrogate too closely, nor discover until many years later. But Charlie thinks mostly and with great pleasure of the reprieve he has been given. With great relief he falls under the spell of all this genteel wealth. Of course, all of it's too good to be true (it wouldn't be much of a novel if it were otherwise, would it?) Soon Charlie begins to see the ugly underside of all this plenty and gets caught up in the emotional maelstrom of involvement with this crowd. I suppose I am damning this book with faint praise when I say it is perfectly competently written, but that seems to me the most accurate description of what this book is: a competent story, efficiently if ploddingly written, with only a few implausibilities (the Army? Really?). But in the final analysis it really doesn't seem to have much to say. We come to care only mildly for these folks and what they are going through; without emotional investment in their plight, though the book never really flags, it never excites, either, never challenges or thrills us. I have also tired of the trials and tribulations of rich, white people. Yes, there are nods here and there in this book to the plight of those who aren't either of these things, but they are just that: nods rather than an actual exploration of what it means to be black or poor or (God help you) both in the Nashville of the late 20th and early 21st century. Perhaps I am just unfeeling (rich people, after all, grieve and fail and die, just like the rest of us), but probably not. Particularly in this moment of our country's history, it seems singularly tone deaf to publish a book about white privilege and expect us to sympathize with the privileged white people. Don't get me wrong, that's not the only reason I couldn't really relate to this book; it's just not that richly plotted and the conflicts raised are fairly pedestrian. But it certainly doesn't help that we have to climb that racial and class hill in order to care.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A young boy gets a chance to leave his impoverished life and go to a prep school. He leaves his friend behind and loves his new life with the wealthy and well connected. But are they the fortunate ones?? They too have problems but use their wealth to cover them up. He runs away several times to avoid conflicts. So the point is that life is horrible no matter if you’re wealthy or poor? His mother was a pregnant teenager who chose to keep him even though her family abandoned her. A wealthy girl ch A young boy gets a chance to leave his impoverished life and go to a prep school. He leaves his friend behind and loves his new life with the wealthy and well connected. But are they the fortunate ones?? They too have problems but use their wealth to cover them up. He runs away several times to avoid conflicts. So the point is that life is horrible no matter if you’re wealthy or poor? His mother was a pregnant teenager who chose to keep him even though her family abandoned her. A wealthy girl chooses to have an abortion instead of derailing her life and spends the rest of her life in depression. Nice contrast between the two sides, showing that both choices are hard and have repercussions for decades.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anne Altman

    Well, this was excellent! It felt very much like a saga to me. The story of a poor boy who makes some rich friends and the story follows their group through school and for much of their adulthood. This was literary fiction at its best. The author delves so deeply into each of these characters and their motivations and while people have mentioned that it is character driven, there is definitely a plot that is captivating and will keep you turning the pages (or the equivalent bc I listened on audi Well, this was excellent! It felt very much like a saga to me. The story of a poor boy who makes some rich friends and the story follows their group through school and for much of their adulthood. This was literary fiction at its best. The author delves so deeply into each of these characters and their motivations and while people have mentioned that it is character driven, there is definitely a plot that is captivating and will keep you turning the pages (or the equivalent bc I listened on audio) to find out what happens to these people. Every single sentence was necessary and nuanced. I caught myself rewinding the audiobook many, many times to relisten to a powerful sentence or moment. I’ve heard this described as a modern Great Gatsby, and while I certainly see the similarities to my favorite classic novel of all time as well as similarities to A Separate Peace, this book is certainly not a retelling. It tells its own story and deserves its own recognition. It was so well done, and I highly recommend it. Triggers abound, though, so beware.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dini - dinipandareads

    I read this book as part of the blog tour hosted by Algonquin Books. Thanks to Algonquin for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I’m quite conflicted with how I feel about this book because overall it was very enjoyable. Tarkington’s writing makes for easy reading and I sped through the story in a little less than two days because my mind wouldn’t stop coming back to it. I was captivated in the first half of the book and I was invested in Charlie’s coming-of-age story; however, my I read this book as part of the blog tour hosted by Algonquin Books. Thanks to Algonquin for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I’m quite conflicted with how I feel about this book because overall it was very enjoyable. Tarkington’s writing makes for easy reading and I sped through the story in a little less than two days because my mind wouldn’t stop coming back to it. I was captivated in the first half of the book and I was invested in Charlie’s coming-of-age story; however, my feelings started to turn lukewarm in the second-half. I’ve been trying to figure out why and I think it’s because I expected more–more from the story, more from the characters, just… More? But let’s take a look at what I loved first: This was my first book by Tarkington so I had no idea what to expect, but I loved his writing. I wouldn’t have been mad if the story was longer because I honestly could’ve just kept reading as his style flowed so easily off the page. The story is simply but beautifully written and I thought Tarkington did a great job in capturing the nostalgic and somewhat tragic tone of Charlie’s story through captivating and compelling prose. What surprisingly worked was the first person point of view as it made for a more intimate experience as we relive the past through both Charlie’s rose-coloured glasses and the jarring perspective and realisation of age and experience. Reading his story sometimes felt kind of dreamlike and “summer-hazy”, which I thought was quite fitting for how Charlie perceived his life at the time. Hands down, 10/10 for the writing. Check out the full review on my blog!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Cetra

    Very readable, & I went through it quickly (the prologue was a great hook), but I felt like I never really got Charlie. There was this distance between him and the reader that didn’t work for me. The writing of this character, and really of all the characters in this book, made it hard for me to feel anything about this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    4.5 stars

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jean Brown

    5 Stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Changed it to 5 stars because I am STILL thinking about this book and having a hard time getting into anything else!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carolynn

    Charlie Boykin is raised by a single mother who had to run away from home when she got pregnant. Eventually his mother's connections get him into an elite boarding school, where Charlie befriends a group of wealthy, privileged students. This is the story of those friendships and how they affect Charlie's life. This book is a character study; don't read it if you are looking for an active plot. It is the story of Charlie. How he and his mother's relationship grows and then changes when surrounded Charlie Boykin is raised by a single mother who had to run away from home when she got pregnant. Eventually his mother's connections get him into an elite boarding school, where Charlie befriends a group of wealthy, privileged students. This is the story of those friendships and how they affect Charlie's life. This book is a character study; don't read it if you are looking for an active plot. It is the story of Charlie. How he and his mother's relationship grows and then changes when surrounded by privilege. How his friendships change over time. How our perceptions change as we get older. How the rich are regarded as "better", though they are just better at covering "flaws". I liked this book. The story was not all that original, but the characters are well-written and worm their way into your consciousness. I kept reading because I was interested in what happened to them. The City of Nashville is also a prominent character in the book. I enjoyed getting to know the city through this novel. I recommend this book to book clubs, because I think it will lead to an interesting discussion about the characters and the choices they make. I liked the author's writing style very much. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books

    (4.5) Things are starting to turn around in Charlie Boykin’s life. The child of a single mother who works as a cocktail waitress, he’s been one of the only white boys at his school and in their Nashville neighborhood. Now, he’s gotten a needs-based scholarship to Yeatman, a prestigious, private high-school. Even better, he’s assigned an upper classman mentor who turns out to be the unicorn of prep school boys—incredibly popular, but kind. The Fortunate Ones is Charlie’s outside-looking-in experie (4.5) Things are starting to turn around in Charlie Boykin’s life. The child of a single mother who works as a cocktail waitress, he’s been one of the only white boys at his school and in their Nashville neighborhood. Now, he’s gotten a needs-based scholarship to Yeatman, a prestigious, private high-school. Even better, he’s assigned an upper classman mentor who turns out to be the unicorn of prep school boys—incredibly popular, but kind. The Fortunate Ones is Charlie’s outside-looking-in experience of a world he never dreamed he would inhabit and how that world can change you. While Yeatman increases Charlie’s opportunities, it is a foreign country. Academically, he is far behind his peers and athletically he has no talent at all. Without Arch as his guide he would be as much of a target as he was at his previous school, but for different reasons. With Archer, he’s accepted, not just at school but, also by the people Archer knows personally. He’s introduced to the Haltom family; whose son is a classmate and whose daughter becomes Charlie’s first crush. He’s eased into a new sphere of friendships and interactions with the adult world. This life change even impacts his mother, when Mrs. Haltom hires her as a salaried assistant. She also offers their empty guesthouse as a more convenient place to live. There must be a catch, right? Not really. There is nothing nefarious in The Fortunate Ones. No one is smuggling drugs, laundering money, or abusing children. Instead, although writing from Charlie’s perspective, author Ed Tarkington lets slide the curtain between child and adult. We are in Charlie’s world, where much can be excused as not understanding how the wealthy or adults behave. Their flaws, bigotry, and fallibility are right there on the page, but are not so much questioned as they are painted over. Charlie goes along until it’s too late and not just his world, but his belief system crashes. Charlie runs until circumstances force his return. Upon doing so, he sees that most of what he thought to be golden is tin. He is once again on the outside, but looking in with the clear eyes of an adult. Tarkington handles this shift in perspective well, giving The Fortunate Ones a weight that takes it beyond a simple novel of wealthy people behaving badly.

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