Author: Shanthi Sekaran
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Type of book: infertility, illegal immigration, love, culture, privilege, Mexico, California, undocumented workers, surviving, foster parents, detention centers, border, immigration, marriage, budgeting, career, friendships, motherhood
Year it was published: 2016
A heart-wrenching novel about the transformative power of motherhood and the redemptive beauty of love, perfect for readers of Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jenny Offill, and Cristina Henriquez.
"A fiercely compassionate story about the bonds and the bounds of motherhood and, ultimately, of love." --Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
In this astonishing novel, Shanthi Sekaran gives voice to the devotion and anguish of motherhood through two women bound together by their love for one boy. Soli, a young undocumented Mexican woman in Berkeley, CA, finds that motherhood offers her an identity in a world where she's otherwise invisible. When she is placed in immigrant detention, her son comes under the care of Kavya, an Indian-American wife overwhelmed by her own impossible desire to have a child. As Soli fights for her son, Kavya builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else's child. Exploring the ways in which dreams and determination can reshape a family, Sekaran transforms real life into a thing of beauty. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon Valley, Lucky Boy offers a moving and revelatory look at the evolving landscape of the American dream and the ever-changing borders of love.
Main characters include Solimar Castro Valdez, Kavya Reddy and Rishi Reddy as well as the little boy, Ignacio. Solimar Castro Valdez in beginning of the story is a young eighteen year old girl who comes undocumented from a poor village in Oaxaca Mexico. She is best described as resourceful, a survivor and someone who does her very best to follow the rules to the letter. Solimar is also lucky in some ways and isn't afraid of hardship. Kavya Reddy is an Indian-American woman who got married to her college sweetheart Rishi. Kavya, it often seems, knows only wealth and privilege of life although she has a very big heart and is ready to open her house to a baby that is not hers. She is a talented chef and doesn't easily give up on her desires, determined to get what she wants one way or another. As she fosters Ignacio, one watches Kavya become far more mature and more sacrificing towards the young boy. Rishi is a bit ambivalent about becoming a father either biologically or through adoption, although he loves Kavya a great deal and will do anything for her. Ignacio is Solimar's biological son and Kavya's foster son. Ignacio, it seems is a big boy who most likely will be talented with words instead of physical aspect. He also inspires love and devotion in whoever he gets to meet.
Motherhood speaks the universal tongue
The story is in third person narrative from Solimar's, Kavya's and to some extent, Rishi's points of views and it takes place over the course of a few years. For me the world that Solimar knows versus the world that Kavya experiences is very stark and is very black and white with little to no gray shades. A lot of things about the detention center where Solimar was forced to stay was shocking to say the least and left me speechless. For me as well, it often feels as if I was asked to choose which "mother" I shall root for. In other words, which will triumph more, nature or nurture? The un-talked
about subjects of infertility, money, career, immigration and privilege are well done.
(From the book)
Shanthi Sekaran teaches creative writing and is a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. She is the author of The Prayer Room and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Best New American Voices and Canteen, as well as online at ZYZZYVA and Mutha Magazine. A California native, she lives in Berkeley with her husband and two children. Lucky Boy is her second novel.
Is it possible to take on "taboo" issues and create a wonderful story from them? I am happy to say that in this story, the answer is a definite yes. The author takes on such a startling world of contrasts between the legal and illegal immigration as well as treatment that women experience. In this story there are no right answers and its difficult to make up one's mind whose side is right and wrong. Although I believe that I went through legal "privileged" immigration, its odd that I related far more to illegal immigrant's side in terms of being a single mother to a little boy and having my parents help. As the reader sees more and more of two women's sides, it becomes difficult in choosing who is right; should the boy stay with his undocumented mother or should the boy stay with his well-off foster parents who want to adopt him? For a book that's guaranteed to change minds and lives, I highly recommend this story where main characters are as complex as the laws in this nation.
This was given to me by publisher for an honest review
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)