Cover Image: Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

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Member Reviews

G.P. Putnam's Sons and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Lucky Boy.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Lucky Boy is the story of two mothers, each who lay claim to the same child.  Solimar Castro-Valdez is just 18 when she illegally crosses from Mexico to the United States.  When she finally reaches her cousin in California, Soli's ordeal results in more than she bargained.

Kavya Reddy feels the pressure from her Indian community to have the perfect life, which includes having a child.  When Kavya and her husband ultimately start the process toward adoption by fostering a young boy, will they end up with heartache or joy?

Lucky Boy crept up on me in a way that will leave a lasting impression long after I have moved on to other novels.  The book highlights one of the most controversial social issues for the United States today: immigration.  I was poised to not feel sympathy for Soli, as illegal immigration is an issue for which I do not support blanketly.  Her story, however, washed over me in waves and the depth to her suffering and its realism was impossible to ignore.  In a lot of ways, the system failed both Soli and Kavya.

Had Lucky Boy been organized a bit better, I would have given it top marks.  The story was written in a haphazard fashion for some of it, making parts of the book difficult to follow.  As the rating system does not support half stars, I give this book four stars.  I would definitely recommend Lucky Boy to other readers and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.
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Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran is one of the best and more inclusive books I’ve read since I started reading in English. This is not my usual read because I read mostly YA books and Lucky Boy featured Adult characters: a Mexican (and pregnant) young woman and an Indian (and long married) couple.

Lucky boy is told from the POV of Soli, a Mexican girl who leaves her quiet town looking for the American Dream and her raw and heartbreaking journey as an immigrant. 
Maybe because her story is similar to many stories I know and because her town is very similar to mine (even if we live in different countries) I was instantly hooked to her POV and I found her voice to be honest and strong. And I loved the writing! Despite all the bad things happening to Soli, there was something almost magical about the way she described her everyday life. 

And then, there were Kavya and Rishi. I loved them deeply too. Their story wasn’t as heartbreaking as Soli’s but it was truthful and deep. I’m not familiar with the Indian culture, so I don’t know if Shanthi Sekaran does justice to their rich traditions and culture with Kavya’s voice (and the few scenes with Rishi’s POV), but they were joyful and so lovely.

The synopsis gives away too much of the plot, just like the title. Lucky Boy is the story of a Lucky Boy, Ignacio. Soli’s son. She’s not pregnant when the book starts. She gets pregnant in her way to the US, and after some twists and turns, Ignacio ends up with Kavya and Rishi, his new foster family. 
There’s so much more after that, of course, but I won’t tell anymore because of spoilers, but let me tell you this: 
Lucky Boy is a story of immigrants, too. Legal and illegal immigrants. This is such an important topic and I’m so glad it exists because it made me more empathetic and sensitive toward immigrants (yes, me! A person with a lot of immigrant friends!) It made me understand how hard is their life so far away from their home, and their struggle to find a new one.

Lucky Boy is a well written and thought-provoking read. With honest, diverse and likable characters, it’s a book you’ll enjoy even if it’s not your “usual genre”. I’m so glad I did! 
I hope you all give it a chance.
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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.
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This book is so appropriate for what is going on in our country these days .... really  makes you think.  Great book!
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Lucky Boy is beautifully written, and written in such a way that I 'felt' the human emotions exuded in the book.  I also felt like I was immersed in the story, visiting each location as if I was truly there.  I was a tad bit disappointed with the ending (I am not a fan of sad endings), but it makes it more real.
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Startling. This book tracks the lives of Soli, an immigrant from Mexico, and the soon-to-be-foster-parents of her son. Both story lines show the journeys of the characters with such compassion that I truly didn't know how this book would end. A beautiful book, highly recommended--- especially for a close look at the illegal immigrant experience in the US. Thanks to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. In exchange, I was asked to write an honest review and post it. My thanks to them both.

I don’t remember why I choose this book; I think that it must have been the title and cover that got my attention. And maybe it was the topics that are explored in it, the want of a child, foster parents and the plight of the illegal immigrant. And the topics are so timely for what is going on politically in this country and to children all over the world. But I think that is why it took me a long time to get through this book. It broke my heart and made me angry.  There could be no happy ending to this story.
Really two stories ; a married couple unable to get pregnant and being part of a culture where getting married and having a child is so important and of a young woman from a poor town in Mexico trying to come to America illegally to have a better life and finds herself pregnant. 
 And while the story was hard for me to sit with; the writing was so good. I will definitely read another book by this author. She was able to take a situation where it was very easy to choose sides and make me empathize with each one. Great book for this time in our history.
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LUCKY BOY puts the reader between a rock and a hard place, and then sends down beautiful metaphors to distract her. It's impossible to pick a side, between the adopted parents, Rishi and Kavyi, and Soli, Iggy's biological mother, especially when both sides fiercely love their son. Sekaran describes Soli's experience of childbirth as "turning inside out and exposing to the world the soft pulp of the heart" and I think the same line applies equally to the text itself.  Reading about the detention centers for illegal immigration would break my heart and then the next chapter would show the grueling, painful side of fertility treatments. But, every now and again there would be a turn of phrase to lift the heart, whether it was the idea that characters could "slip feathers into the cushions of their futures" or that a seed "begins its life underground" and that "by the time we see it, its roots are down, its buds are calling to the world." LUCKY BOY was a tough, beautifully written read, a book that I often had to walk away from but was not able to truly leave alone.
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I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this book. It's a page turner, a can't-put-down, recommend to everyone book. It's timely and such a great conversation starter. I have recommended it to everyone I know. Can't wait to read more from this author! Truly, the best book I've read in ages.
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Excellent read, and made me glad I'm not a judge having to make these type of decisions. 
Both Soli and Kavya are in pain. But who's pain is greater? What's the best interest of the child?
Read this book!
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3.5 stars
Lucky Boy is a lot to unpack, especially in our current political climate. The story focuses on women in two different worlds - one of privilege and the other of struggle. Although they are inexorably linked, they don't understand one another at all. The writing in this story is beautiful, and really helped develop the characters and their deepest feelings and desires. The story is layered and unpredictable, a journey really. I admire how unique it was and how many worlds the author was able to create for us as Soli moved through the world.
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To be published in numerous magazines in May: Mexican Solimar risks everything to start a new life in America. But as an illegal immigrant she has few rights. When she’s thrown into a detention centre, her son is placed in foster care.  Kavya is an American-Indian chef desperate for a child. When she’s given Solimar’s toddler to care for it seems like a dream come true. One boy – two mothers, both of whom will do everything in their power in order to keep him. An emotional rollercoaster of a read, this looks set to become one of this year’s bestsellers.
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Lucky Boy is the story of a small child whose Mexican immigrant mother, Solimar, and his Indian foster mother, Kavya, are caught in a legal battle for him. This book reads luminously while covering many intense topics and I found many beautiful quotes worth sharing.

I recently read The Same Sky, which touches on the very same issues of undocumented pregnant woman, infertility, the horrors of riding La Bestia train and many other potent social issues. With that book simmering in the back of my mind, it was hard not to compare the two stories and writing styles. This was often troublesome for me, so I made a conscious effort to separate the two.

Finding both women protagonists in this novel to be strong, capable and loving caretakers made this hard to read at times. They both deserved to be mothers. Young Ignacio, the toddler in question, would be okay in either woman’s care yet where would he thrive, where was he safest, and should that even matter if his mother is alive and well? With our current policy on immigration, this book couldn’t be timelier. This author allowed the reader to step in the shoes of both women and feel their pain as different as they were.

I enjoyed watching Kavya’s husband become a father as much as he was scared of the prospect and expectations that came with the title. He was a likeable character and was incredibly and unusually supportive of his wife’s many meltdowns.

There were many minor characters within the story that either worked for me or didn’t. For example, I would’ve liked more closure with the Cassidy family, who were so instrumental in Soli’s life. Preeti and Ven never captured my attention and I wasn’t sure of the author’s intent in adding them. Additionally, I wished I knew more about Miquel, the sous chef and friend of Kavya, who was likely an undocumented person as well.

The ending seemed just, as there was no right answer. This book could’ve had a “choose your own ending” and I think even the most inspired reader would’ve been hard pressed to pick a side. This will certainly light up a book club with a variety of topics to discuss. I look forward to reading more from this author.
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This is a timely novel about an undocumented wonan, Soli who crosses the border from Mexico into the United States to find a better life for herself. This book was not only about an undocumented immigrant's plight and their hard journey but also covers infertility and foster parenting. The author does a great job with presenting two contrasting lives and cultures that are complete opposite of one another. Soli, is the undocumented immigrant who finds herself pregnant and finds that the love of her child is the only good thing in her life. Rishi and Kavya, are of Indian descent and after failing to conceive a child decide to foster parent. The one constant in this story is the love both these women have for Iggy. This was a heartfelt story that stays with you long after you have finished reading. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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I should have loved everything about this novel but for some reason I could not find my rhythm. Reading it felt like a chore and I was unable to finish. My apologies as I  see this book has been highly regarded .
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Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran is more about two women, Kavya and Soli and their quest to be Ignacio’s mother. Ignacio is the biological son of Soli and foster son to Kavya. 
It is a story highlighting foster parenting, infertility and illegal immigration, all timely subjects, yet the book fell short for me. Perhaps it was too long, though beautifully written it felt repetitive. Ignacio doesn’t even enter the story until the last half of the book.     
Most of the story centers on the lives of Kavya and Soli, I enjoyed their story, especially learning about their cultures but it was just too lengthy.  I wanted to read about the “lucky boy” and how he fit into the story.  It felt like once he was introduced the story came to a rather quick end.
The writing was very good, flowed nicely to my ear, descriptive and melodic; needed more of Ignacio’s story.
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DNF. I found it difficult to connect with either of the women. The emotions of infertility, quite familiar to myself, seemed stilted and stale here. Great premise but just couldn't bring myself to finish.
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I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons for the e-book of "Lucky Boy" by Shanthi Sekaran. Especially with the recent news of immigration, this is a timely read. The genre of this book is fiction. The author writes of  Solimar, an undocumented Mexican, who has a treacherous journey to America and gives birth to a baby boy. Kavya an America Indian woman, has faced fertility issues and wants a baby more than anything. When Solimar is in an accident in America, her baby boy is placed in a foster situation with Kavya and her husband.  Solimar finds herself in a detention center ,not certain of her future. Solimar only wants her baby.
 At the same time Kavya and her husband have fallen in love with their foster child.
  As the description of the book describes:There are no bad guys in this story,no single obvious hero."
   I find that the author describes issues of  heartbreak and frustration of infertility. as well as immigration, and non documented people.The detention centers are described as almost lawless, providing no legal rights , as well issues of deportation. What rights does a foster or natural mother have?
   Shanthi Sekaran has written a very emotional novel that gives me much to think about.
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An illegal immigrant and a woman wanting a child will cross paths when the immigrant’s son goes into the foster system. Both women pursue the child, and neither will ever be the same when she reaches the end of her journey. Author Shanthi Sekaran explores the world of wanting a child and keeping one in the grossly lopsided novel Lucky Boy.

At the age of 18, Solimar Castro-Valdez only knows two things for sure: her small village in Mexico is running out of options for a viable life and America will change everything beyond her wildest dreams. After all, her cousin, Silvia, made it to America, and everyone knows how well Sylvia’s life turned out. If Soli wants a chance to help her family improve their economic standing, she knows she’ll have to undertake the dangerous journey across the border.

Some people have tried and failed, come back in utter distress or disgrace, but Soli knows she won’t end up like that. Her father has made arrangements with a man who guarantees Soli’s safety—until the journey begins, and he doesn’t anymore. When Soli learns he intends for her to be a drug mule, she runs away and joins another migrating group. Then she meets someone who will change her life forever.

But that isn’t the only change Soli will experience, and she learns that all the stories people told in Mexico about the arduous journey to America are true. Weeks after leaving her hometown, she arrives on Silvia’s doorstep forlorn but not broken. Despite the discovery that she’s pregnant, Soli gets a job as a cleaning lady and nanny to a family in Berkeley, California.

On the other side of the city, Kavya and Rishi are living any young couple’s dream. Kavya gets to exercise her cooking skills as head chef, albeit at a sorority house, and Rishi works at a successful startup. They feel like they should be grateful for what they have, yet they can’t get around the one thing they don’t: a child. Fertility treatments don’t work, so Kavya and Rishi decide to adopt.

Rishi in particular becomes convinced that adopting out of the foster system will ground his place in the world. Kavya, less sure, agrees to look into the process. Through a complicated series of events they meet Soli’s son, now one year old, and Kavya falls in love with the boy immediately. What they don’t realize is that Soli never intended to give him up; he was taken from her, and after losing everything else she will do whatever it takes to get him back.

Author Shanthi Sekaran tackles the foster care system as well as issues of illegal immigration and infertility in a book that could have made a deep impact, and it does to an extent. Soli’s story will draw out readers’ hearts and make them look twice at themselves as well as the immigrants, legal or not, who believe with wholehearted desperation that the United States offers solutions to all of their problems.

Less successful, by a wide margin, is the story of Kavya and Rishi. Kavya comes across as self-absorbed and someone with too great a sense of entitlement. Rishi handles everything tentatively to the point that even when he and Kavya welcome Soli’s son into their home, readers will begin to wonder whether he really wanted to be a father in the first place. Kavya starts the process with her yearnings to be a mother; Rishi becomes the one to champion the foster care system. Neither of them seem to understand the far-reaching consequences of what they’re doing.

Had Sekaran chosen to cut out Rishi and Kavya altogether and simply followed Soli’s story, the impact would have been much deeper. As it is, the book during Soli’s portions will astound readers with its initial force and then leave them with too many unanswered story questions after they’ve absorbed the impact. Those unanswered questions come mostly from Kavya and Rishi’s involvement in the plot.

Due to the title, readers will assume Soli’s son has a much larger role to play but ultimately he becomes a placeholder for an immigrant’s dream. While the book is worth reading for Soli’s perspective, readers may not be able to fully appreciate the story Sekaran is attempting because of her other protagonists. For this reason, Lucky Boy is Bordering on Bypass it.
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