Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (2017)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Page Length: 480 pages (electronic review copy)
Solimar Castro Valdez is eighteen and dazed with optimism when she embarks on a perilous journey across the US/Mexican border. Weeks later she arrives on her cousin’s doorstep in Berkeley, CA, dazed by first love found then lost, and pregnant. This was not the plan. But amid the uncertainty of new motherhood and her American identity, Soli learns that when you have just one precious possession, you guard it with your life. For Soli, motherhood becomes her dwelling and the boy at her breast her hearth.
Kavya Reddy has always followed her heart, much to her parents’ chagrin. A mostly contented chef at a UC Berkeley sorority house, the unexpected desire to have a child descends like a cyclone in Kavya’s mid-thirties. When she can’t get pregnant, this desire will test her marriage, it will test her sanity, and it will set Kavya and her husband, Rishi, on a collision course with Soli, when she is detained and her infant son comes under Kavya’s care. As Kavya learns to be a mother–the singing, story-telling, inventor-of-the-universe kind of mother she fantasized about being–she builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else’s child.
Lucky Boy is an emotional journey that will leave you certain of the redemptive beauty of this world. There are no bad guys in this story, no obvious hero. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon valley, author Shanthi Sekaran has taken real life and applied it to fiction; the results are moving and revelatory. (description from Goodreads)
Lucky Boy is a novel about two women from completely different backgrounds. Soli, is a teenager from Mexico who dreams of a better life. With the help of her parents and some others she encounters along the way, she is able to cross the border without suspicion and finally lands in america. The grass seems so much greener on the other side, while living with her cousin Silvia, but discovering that she’s pregnant will change everything. On the other hand, Kavya is a young Indian woman from California who is married and is struggling to conceive a child. She yearns for a child of her own desperately and the heavy stress of this starts to put a strain on her married life.
The story moves at an overall moderate pace. My heart feels for both of these women: Kayva seeming to have it all, and Soli who is struggling to adapt to a new American life. Kayva wants a baby and Soli is grasping the concept of being a mother to be. When Kayva finally gains the child she has always wanted, it is at the suffering of Soli losing her baby. This dynamic shift causes the two to be deeply intertwined.
Reading the story from both POVs helps to benefit the reader in books such as this. No one is quick to choose one’s side, and seeing through both women’s eyes helps you to empathize with each situation. The author’s writing is very detailed that their emotions and struggle placed me in their shoes prompting the question of: “What would you do?”
Throughout the story the author touches on a lot of social issues such as adoption, infertility, and immigration. And that helps to not only strengthen the narrative, but brings these issues to life. Lucky Boy by no means an easy read and its climatic ending definitely took me for a surprise. It was emotionally hard to digest at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
*Trigger warnings for some graphic scenes of rape and violence.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.