Lucky in Love tells the story of Lucky Testaduda, 15 years old in 1942 and full of hopes and dreams, most of which revolve around action, adventure and women. Okay, mostly women. Like any 15-year old, Lucky is obsessed with girls and with the United States entering World War II, his erotic fantasies are intertwined with those of flying fighter planes. This book follows his (largely unsucessful) attempts to fornicate throughout the War and beyond. Along the way, he regales us with stories of life during wartime, both on the homefront and overseas. There’s a lot of bragging, a little bit of action and the discovery of what really makes a hero.
In a lot of ways, Lucky in Love is really several stories in one – obviously, we’ve got the main tale of a young man trying to get laid and deal with the public’s perception and the adulation heaped upon anyone returning from a tour of duty, but beyond that we also get a fascinating look at what life was like during the 1940’s. Lucky’s reminiscing about the mistrust many citizens felt toward Italian-Americans during the war is eerily reminiscent of the anti-Muslim sentiment we’re seeing in America right now. I guess unfounded racism and xenophobic attitudes during wartime are as American as baseball and apple pie.
There’s actually a disclaimer at the beginning of the book regarding the ethnic and racial slurs used throughout the story. Of course, being a period piece, attitudes were much different than they are today and a slang term might be considered insensitive in 2010 often seemed no different than referring to a friend as a “buddy” or “pal” in 1945. It all adds to the sense of poignant realism that runs throughout the book and allows the reader an informative and entertaining glimpse into the past.
Lucky in Love is both a humorous and often naïve look at our past as a country and as sex-obsessed teenagers. It is a deadly serious story about the fantasy and the reality of war and heroism. It’s drawn in a unique style that it reminiscent of classic Disney or Golden Age comic strips and is filled with hopes, dreams, fantasies and often unfortunate realities. It’s a great coming-of-age story and history lesson that shouldn’t be missed.