Although the story is fictional, it reads as if it could be a memoir. The main character, Soila, goes from Kenya to New York City for college. The story focuses on how she tries to integrate the culture of her homeland with American culture, with the further challenge of trying to honor and respect her mother and the values she has instilled while also trying to become her own person, which means questioning or even going against what she has been taught. Particularly interesting was the discussions between her (as an African immigrant) and black American friends about racism and obstacles to advancement by minorities.
Soila was raised by a strict mom who ruled the actions of her and her aunties in Kenya. To create her own distinctive life, she moves to the US for college. But she still listens to her mom's voice and studies business rather than photography. She even dates men her mom would approve of. Until one day she must decide if she's going to truly go her own way or remain in her mother's grasp.
I appreciated the insights into one Kenyan family's life. The discussions about race were also somewhat interesting.
I couldn't connect emotionally with Soila or any of the other characters, though. And some of the content is preachy.
I loved this book-- it was really meaningful as a survivor of a lot of trauma and did a good job entangling cultural influences into those events, if that makes sense.
For whatever reason, this was not on the top of my books to read...hence why I'm reviewing it now rather than 7 months earlier!
While I did not love the book as much as I was hoping to, I also didn't hate the book. If that makes sense. I did feel as if the book was a little all over the place to me and that the ending was rushed. Amost like it was a good book but the author started running out of time and decided to wrap things up as quickly as possible. Not that the ending was bad, but it did leave me with a lot of unanswered questions.
Thank you again to NetGalley for the ARC
Lucky Girl by Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu is not just a book; it's a journey, a revelation, an awakening. Following Soila's path from the sunbathed streets of Nairobi to the bustling avenues of New York in the 1990s, this book is an odyssey of resilience and self-discovery.
Soila is a symphony of strength, her spirit unyielding like a lighthouse steadfast in stormy seas. Raised in a conservative household, she clashes with her mother's rigid ideals. However, her world turns upside down following a traumatic experience, propelling her to seek refuge in the unfamiliar terrains of New York. This city, far from the golden dreamland she envisioned, confronts her with harsh realities – the stark divide between wealth and poverty, and the raw, unfiltered face of racial injustice.
As Soila navigates this new world, her journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Muchemi-Ndiritu crafts a narrative that's as much about finding one's identity as it is about understanding the complexities of a world divided by cultural lines. It's a coming-of-age story that resonates with anyone who's ever searched for their place in the world.
Soila's romance with a free-spirited artist adds another layer to her saga. It's a crossroads between honoring her cultural roots and embracing a future she yearns to create. 'Lucky Girl' is a mirror reflecting the dilemmas faced by immigrants, torn between the land of their birth and the land they grow to love.
Honestly, Lucky Girl feels like a love letter to every young woman carving her path in the world. It's a story that's as much about the places we come from as it is about the places we go. Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu, in her fierce and tender debut, invites us to contemplate the lives and loves we choose and the indomitable spirit of a young African immigrant at the turn of the millennium. READ IT!!!!!
Thank you so so much to Random House Publishing Group - Random House and NetGalley for the advanced reading copy in exchange for my honest review.
I will be honest, I don't think this book fits the description it comes with. I expected it to be a little bit lighter than it was, and much of the emphasis was placed on the 90s setting and nostalgia, where there was almost none to speak of.
That being said, I loved it. I was deeply affected by the racial over and undertones, I learned a lot and was truly invested in the love story at its center. I just think the description could have been a bit more spot on.
Lucky Girl by Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu is a tender and evocative debut. It's a coming of age story that covers themes of immigration, identity, and belonging. I'll look to read more from the author in the future.
Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
What a wonderful novel. Soila shares her entire life with the reader—her heartbreaks (and omg there are so many), her coming of age and beginning to make her own decisions, her assimilation into a foreign culture, her struggle with the differentiation between Black (mixed), Black American, and Black African, and how each sees being Black in America, and what the history of oppression means to each. We also see a guy-wrenching perspective on 9/11, how she tries to find love, and every way that love is tested when a parent gets sick.
She is both a lovable and hateable character, and sometimes I wanted to thump her in the head for her decisions. But it was a wonderful book, the writing was almost lyrical.
What a poignant, meaningful, thoughtful book about family, relationships and culture.
The characters are so well developed. The plot follows Soila as she has to make life altering decisions and we get to accompany her on her journey to self discovery. Loved it.
Thankful for the ARC
Without saying too much this book is also about survival about trying hard and fighting for what you are and believing even if an entire country or culture wants to erase your story or not let you shine..
this book was a mood swing i spent most of the time feeling sad for the main character and what she was going through but at some times I felt like she was empowering
Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House, Dial Press Trade Paperback, for the advanced copy of Lucky Girl in exchange for my honest review.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.
This coming of age story was a welcomed break from my normal reads. It was hard to get into, but I soon found myself rooting for a happy ending. With many characters to keep track of it felt like not all their plots were fully developed. The characters emotions were described in such a way that the reader does not feel them, it is just words on the page. The ending felt rush, and as if the happy ending was forced.
I want to thank Netgalley and Dial Press Trade Paperback for an ARC of this book.
“Lucky Girl” is an interesting read about a young female African immigrant trying to make her way in America. You see her story as a young woman, trying to find herself and happiness while managing the expectations of a demanding mother. It aims to point out the (sometimes contentious) differences between Africans and African-Americans and their respective viewpoints. This aspect certainly seems to run true and while I appreciated the depth of these topics, it sometimes came off rather preachy and heavy handed. Overall, I looked this book and that it was thoughtful, so it’s a 3.5 stars ⭐️ rated up to 4 for me. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced copy for review.
Solia is an African immigrant and so many consider her a Lucky Girl to have the chance to go to America. Lucky Girl tells Solia's story and helps the reader see that there are many sides to the immigration story. I don't know why this stayed on my shelf so long but maybe it was waiting for me to be in the space for it. Highly Recommend!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Lucky Girl is available now.
First of all, what an absolutely breath-taking cover! This livens up any bookshelf or coffee table. Though I was initially attracted by the stunning cover, this book really shines in its content. I could not get enough of this book! The complexity laid out in the telling of Soila's story is so heart-achingly real and tangible, as a reader, you feel all the emotions of the character through all of the ups and the downs. Will Soila choose new found love after escaping her Kenyan roots in NYC, or will the tug on her heart to honor her upbringing prevail? Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for a copy of this book for an honest review.
This story has it all, a rich heritage and immigration story with the painful backstory of slavery and oppression. It is tragic and wonderful.
“You’re a lucky girl to have a mother who cares for you so much”
In ‘Lucky Girl’ we meet Soila, who objectively is lucky. Despite the tragic passing of her father at a young age, her mother and aunts have raised her and given her a protective, well-financed life in Nairobi, Kenya. However, the strict rule of her mother has become too much for her to handle and she sets off to start her dream life in college in New York. But life away from home in NYC is not the fairytale she dreamed of and we see Soila battle between her life in Kenya and her new life in America.
“— the joy and pain of life were unforeseeable... much of our lives would never make sense to us, even if we lived three lifetimes”
I loved this story. I read this within two days. It reminds me a lot of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (one of my all-time favs) so if you loved that book I think you’ll enjoy this one too.
This was a great blend between a coming-of-age story with romance. It covered so many great topics from navigating different cultures, complicated parental relationships, grief, empathy, love, friendships, race dynamics, and carving your own life.
Soila had to unlearn a lot, especially about Blackness in America through her friends which I felt was a very honest and interesting conversation. Her best friend (who is arguably the best character) was also Letitia which had no influence on my rating whatsoever hehe
We learn about her father's secret tragic passing and the effects secrets can have on a family. I loved how much she grew and the ending was a little bittersweet. Relationships are challenging, especially with parents that can appear unforgiving and unrelenting in their expectations for you. Soila seeks her mother's love constantly and it is tough to see her battle the feelings of feeling responsible for the opportunities her family gives her while balancing the passions and the life she wants to live.
loved it and I am so happy with who she ended up with!
Other quotes I liked:
“You’re never going to regret going for what you really want in life. It’ll be hard at first, no doubt. But in a few years, you’ll be out of the trenches, and you’ll be fulfilled in so many more ways”
“I see now that ’30 under 30’ lists are there only to make adults feel hopeless and unaccomplished when the truth is that most of us are late bloomers. But when we finally bloom, we bloom beautifully”
“Here we were, all of us the same skin color, the same dark-brown eye color, the same hair — but our histories were so starkly different”
I felt this was a book with a lot of feelings. The main carachter had life struggles with her mom, and found out a lot when she move to NY from Nariboa. It was a good story and kept my interest.
Rounding up to five stars. This is a sweeping and moving debut that kept me hooked. It reminded me of the types of literary fiction novels I read in my youth and there was a comfort in that cadence and pacing. Interestingly, it was the second litfic novel I've read this year that centres on a young woman with a complicated relationship with her mother moving to NYC with an interest/aspiration to be a photographer (The Light of Eternal Spring was the other one.) To an extent, this is a simple book that is really about Soila's coming of age between her home in Kenya and time in NYC. Her journey is familiar and relatable in many ways - helping the reader work through some of the same issues that Soila is facing. At the same time, it is uniquely Soila's story - about her experiences and relationships with her mother, family, friends, career and love life. I enjoyed spending time with her and was rooting for her along the way.
Content warning for some pretty heavy stuff: sexual assault, religious trauma, parental emotional abuse, suicide, racism, abortion, 9/11, dementia.
Soila was a young girl growing up in Kenya with her Mother and her Mother’s sisters. Soila’s ila lmother was grooming her to take over her many businesses but Soila had other plans. She always dreamed of going to America and studying Art.
After a lot of hard work and defying her Mother Soila was accepted to a college in New York. There was adjustments to the American lifestyle even after coming from a privileged background. Soon she was making friends. Part of the deal for going to America was that Soila was to study business but the Art classes were calling to her.
Her family in Kenya is never far away and Soila is feeling guilty about leaving her Mother and aunts.
She is very torn.
This is very interesting story about being true to yourself and also to your family and your traditions.