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In The Good Fortune of Bad Luck by Travis Erwin, Destiny Holt has laid out a plan for the trajectory of her life to take her out of a childhood of abandonment and poverty and into a nursing degree, a nice home, and a family. She believes in making her own luck through the will to forge an escape from the fate that her impoverished birth would dictate.
By contrast, Dillon Konrad has kept his life in a holding pattern of waiting for the stars to align and bring him his soul mate, a job he likes, and lottery winnings, all based on a prophecy from his grandmother, who accurately predicted the death of his parents. He believes in letting fate make his decisions, trusting that openness to the will of the universe will bring him good fortune.
The Good Fortune of Bad Luck examines which of these two philosophies, if either, will prove true as Destiny’s and Dillon’s lives spin around—and inexorably toward—each other. The story takes place in modern-day Dallas, Texas, where Destiny works in a retirement home at night and Dillon oversees a debt collection agency by day. By rights, the two should never have met, except that Brent, Destiny’s deadbeat husband, also works in Dillon’s department, so she happens to drop Brent off at work on a day when she needs to use the car and rear-ends Dillon in the company parking lot.
Though Dillon’s horoscope implies he will meet his soulmate that same day, he doesn’t catch Destiny’s name and also happens to meet Candace Malloy—who comes in to demand a job of Dillon’s boss—allowing himself to get distracted by her. For her part, Destiny has begun to notice Brent’s restlessness with the life she wants for them both. The choice between her desired future and the man she married leaves her torn after all the work she’s put into having both.
Four characters dominate the narrative of The Good Fortune of Bad Luck: Dillon and his antagonist, Candace Malloy, and Destiny and her antagonist, her husband Brent. Candace’s grief over her mother’s death and revenge plot against her stepfather block Dillon from finding his true soulmate, while Brent’s lackadaisical attitude toward his responsibilities hold Destiny back from achieving her goals. The complex evolution of character interrelationships eventually brings Destiny and Dillon together just as absolutely everything falls apart for everyone.
In The Good Fortune of Bad Luck, I admired how the inherent self-centeredness of each of the characters involved drove the plot forward into misery for all, tearing down walls everyone had built up for their own protection and allowing each character to take a stab at learning how to handle their vulnerabilities. Destiny and Dillon are forced to re-examine their methods for finding happiness and with whom they think they can be happy.
I also found the alternating points-of-view between Dillon and Candace, and Destiny and Brent illuminating. This storytelling method brought a fuller revelation of the narrative as it unfolded, offering a unique perspective on the flaws of the main characters. Candance’s story of grief and revenge demonstrated how Dillon’s stand-back, hands-off approach to life would never see him succeed; Brent’s desire for freedom highlighted how Destiny’s idea of a good life doesn’t fit everyone’s needs.
I do have to point out two issues I had with The Good Fortune of Bad Luck.
- All of the women hate each other. Either they’re squabbling over Dillon or universally hating Candace—seemingly because she’s hot, which I guess other women find inherently threatening?—before ever even speaking to her. It’s weird to see almost no women speaking civilly to each other because everyone has a nasty quip to spout, when that’s never been my experience with women in real life.
- Destiny’s best friend Norma, a black woman, constantly worries about Destiny and not only does she always put Destiny’s needs above her own, so does Destiny. Norma complains about a racist resident at the nursing home, but Destiny advises her to just deal with it because the resident has Alzheimer’s. Norma wants Destiny to hurry up and pick a dress at the mall when she gives her a ride there because her feet hurt from working all night, but Destiny dithers because she wants a dress her date will like. Norma doesn’t want to attend the funeral of a racist resident, but Destiny drags her along anyway. Never once does Destiny put Norma’s comfort above her own.
For all that, I still think readers of romantic dramas will enjoy The Good Fortune of Bad Luck. Fate takes twist after turn in this romance blossoming between two earnest, diligent people beaten down by the realities of modern-day struggles and their own self-imposed ideals. The characters, their stories, how they intertwined, and where each ended up felt real and satisfying in the end.
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought about it in the comments (book discussions are, after all, the whole reason I write these reviews).
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For over 100 years, Texas High Plains Writers has been a part of great storytelling in Texas and beyond.
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