Cover Image: Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

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Member Reviews

This book is beautifully written with compelling characters.  One can't help but feel sympathetic to both Soli and Kavya - not to mention Ignacio - - no matter how one feels about illegal immigration, adoption, or parental rights.
The narrative is complex with much to think about and no real right or wrong answers.
A great book for book club discussions.
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Wow!  There could be no happy ending for this story and that kinda sucks but it doesn't ruin this book  I thought the entire story felt authentic, and with real life comes plenty of heartache.  I highly recommend this one, and don't be put off because it's kinda sad, it's also a great read!
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This really timely story is a heartbreaking one about an undocumented young woman, Soli, who takes risks for hopes of a better life, risks which were more dangerous than she ever imagined as she leaves her family in Mexico to make her way to the US. Soli's story is told in conjunction with the alternating narrative of a young couple of Indian descent, Kayva and Rishi who want desperately to have a child but are not successful in their attempts to conceive. They are ultimately connected by a baby boy named Ignacio. It's difficult to write about this without giving too much of the story away but suffice it to say that this story grabbed me from the beginning. During this past election with a big focus on immigration and whether to deport undocumented people, one of the things that I found very difficult to imagine was separating US born children from their parents who may be deported. This is a gripping story that will keep you interested to the end waiting to see what happens to these desperate people and this beautiful, little boy . Difficult to say how lucky he was , but definitely worth reading.
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This is a heartbreaking story that tackles issues of infertility, adoption, immigration, and motherhood.  The two women at the center of the story are both courageous, loving, and willing to fight fiercely for the chance to have a little boy.  The novel presents a impossible choice and doesn't skirt the dirty and harsh details that making the choice entails.
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Lucky boy is a story about two women who love one little boy baby.  Soli crosses the Mexican-United States border illegally.  On her journey to do this, she becomes pregnant.  Her lover leaves her.  Kavya is of Indian descent but born on American soil.  Soli Has an American dream to live here in the United States.  Ignacio, her son is taken from her when she is put in detention due to her illegal status.  Kavya and her husband trying with help to get pregnant decide to become foster parents.  Ignacio is the baby they get to care for as Soli is in prison.  Kavya and her husband decide they want to adopt Ignacio but Soli fights them as she doesn't want to give up her son.  Who will end up with the baby?

The novel has hope and despair in it.  You see how both mothers feel and love the baby.  It is a moving and realistic story.  Many sensitive subjects are touched upon.  This is a much read novel.
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“If this is a story, it’s one with no right ending.”  No line has ever rang more true to me than this one from Shanthi Sekaran’s Lucky Boy -- the heart breaking tale of Soli, a woman from Mexico, who enters the country illegally to better her life and the life of her unborn child.  Facing horrific obstacles and a grueling journey, Soli makes it to America.  She finds her cousin, Silvia and through her is given a place to stay and gains employ as a housekeeper and nanny for a local wealthy family.   In the same town we also meet Rishi and Kayva, a happily married couple who have tried desperately to get pregnant to no avail.  Watching his wife sink deeper into depression and become increasingly detached from him is more than Rishi can bear.  They consider the wide variety of alternative methods that are available to them outside of getting pregnant -- from surrogacy, to fertility treatments to adoption.  Having limited funds, they opt to become foster parents in the hopes of adopting a child that they foster.   Though they have never met each other, Soli, Rishi and Kavya’s lives will collide in ways they could have never imagined and expose them all to heart wrenching love and loss. 

Powerful, timely and relevant, Lucky Boy is a bold, eye-opening account of current immigration issues as well as our foster care system.  It humanizes the age old question “what makes a mother?”  and exposes the treatment of undocumented people in our deportation facilities. This is a well researched, beautifully written story and I look forward to Sekaran’s next work.  The book moved slowly initially and it wasn’t until I was half way in to the story that it grabbed me completely - for that reason alone I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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Lucky Boy is a heart-wrenching read, one with lots of moral shades of gray. The first half of the book follows two characters on their separate journeys, before their lives intersect at about the halfway point. Soli is an immigrant from Mexico, who enters the US illegally and works for her cousin cleaning houses. She discovers she's pregnant and is struggling to keep her child. Kavya is married and struggling to get pregnant. She and her husband decide to adopt, even though her Indian mother disapproves. I knew their lives would intersect over Soli's child, which didn't happen until halfway through the book.

As someone who's struggled to have a child, I could really relate to Kavya. And as someone who recently adopted a newborn, I could relate to the joy of holding a baby and loving him. Both characters felt so real, but Soli's journey was especially heart-breaking. I couldn't believe the horrors of the American system for illegal immigrants and all she went through to get to the US. While I sympathized with Kavya, I couldn't agree with her actions, especially since she knew that as a foster parent, the child might not ultimately stay with her. I'm torn, though, because I'm not sure if I agree with Soli's actions at the end, either. One of the things that makes this book so interesting is that given the current political situation and foster care system, there are no right answers. Even more scary to think about what will happen with our incoming president!
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This one surprised me. It started slow and I considered putting it down but I'm glad I stayed with it. I don't want to give away too much but I felt the second part of the book was strongest and I was pleased with the ending--until nearly the very end I really couldn't tell which way it was going to go.
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“Sometimes the things that happen can be changed. Sometimes they cannot. Which time is this?”

A heart-pounding important story that made my head spin with thoughtful pondering about current issues.

A very strong theme is this book was the timely topic of immigration, and the different stories out there and recognize those differences. Both of these characters were immigrants of from an immigrant family, therefore this was a topic that was of personal interest to them. The character of Soli seemed so realistic and the experience is so raw that I couldn’t look away and ignore what type of injustices and discrimination was being played out for her. Personally, I was rooting for Soli the whole time and because the author provided a solid backstory, we could understand her motivations more. 

Mother’s love is such a powerful thing that is central to this story. Many times I was just in awe and wonder of the things that mothers have to do, alone, to get their child to the best possible place with them that they can. For me, this was a touching study of what it means to be a mother who desperately loves her child so much that she would move the world for him.

Ahh, I can't believe how many emotions I went through reading this story of an illegal immigrant with a son that she desperately loved but was placed in foster care. We are presented with two women, both who throughout the stories becomes the mother to this "lucky boy" Ignacio. I was so torn between what I wanted the ending to be, although the author gave plenty of clues and foreshadowing as to what would happen in the end. There are alternative POVs between Kavya and Soli and also the secondary character Rishi. 

Well, we know that the author did her research and this story is actually based on a story that actually happened, which I find interesting to see what kinds of things are a source of inspiration. There are Mexicans and Indians that are part of the various characters identity, and my little heart was overjoyed that this diverse book that was written by an ownvoices author is being published. I'm so thankful that I got to read this deeply insightful story.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**
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This was a beautifully written book, that being said I have no other words.....

All I can really say is read it.

Lucky Boy what a very Lucky Boy

My thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
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Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the privilege of being able to read and review this book.

What a journey. My heart still hurts after finishing this book. The story is told in two different voices - Soli is an 18-year-old from a poor village in Mexico filled with dreams and courage. She finds a way to make it over the border and ends up in Berkeley CA with a cousin. She begins work as a housecleaner for a wealthy couple and finds herself pregnant. She is a fierce mother and protector of little Ignacio - or Nacho as she calls him. Until she is herded up by Immigration.

The alternate voice is that of Kayva and her husband, Rishi, are a young couple living the American dream. A nice house in Berkeley, both have good jobs - the only thing missing is a baby. When Kayva is unable to conceive, they try adoption which leads them to fostering Ignacio.

At the crux of this story are two mothers - both fiercely in love with their child. There are no clear winners in this story and it will tug at your heartstrings.

The writing in this story is beautiful - amazing that this is a debut novel. In today's environment with the immigration issue in all the news, surely makes you think. Highly recommended!
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Lucky Boy by Santhi Sekaran
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Length: 480 pages

Single Sentence Summary: Ignacio is a lucky little boy, loved deeply by two mothers, but his destiny can only lie with one.

Primary Characters: Soli Castro Valdez – Nacho’s birth mother (18) who made a dangerous journey from Mexico to the US looking for a better life. Kavya Reddy – Iggy’s foster mom, a 37-year old woman who has struggled with infertility. Rishi Reddy – Kavya’s husband, a small cog in the world, but a really nice man.

Synopsis: Two women love a beautiful little boy, Igancio. To Soli, his birth mother, he’s Nacho, the child conceived on her risky journey from Mexico to Berkeley, California. To Kavya, his Indian-American foster mother, he’s Iggy, the baby she’s dreamt of for so long. Neither woman’s story is simple and both deserve to raise this child. Neither can fathom a life without Ignacio, but this lucky little boy can’t grow up with them both.

Review: So far, Lucky Boy is my favorite book of 2017! I love it when you read a book and truly like all the main characters. This was one of those books. Shanthi Sekaran is wonderfully talented at creating fully fleshed out characters that are incredibly real. Soli we meet as she’s preparing to leave her small Mexican village.

“For too long she’s pushed away the thought of leaving. Papi! She was his only one. And Mama. Mama would crawl into bed and never crawl out. But decay has spread like the valley fog, until it found its way to Soli. She’d breathed so much of it in that she couldn’t breathe it out again. She was filling up with silence and heavy bones. She was eighteen.”  

We see Soli’s grit and determination as she undertakes an amazing journey, full of risks, in order to gain a better life. As a reader, you want her to have that life.

Kavya and Rishi Reddy were also vividly real characters both individually and as a couple. So much of their story was just normal. I thought the transformations each underwent as they fell in love with Igancio were beautiful and authentic.

“Now that she could relax with her son, she began to love him. She’s thought she loved him before, but this new sensation was something else. It was love that verged on physical desire, jagged and dense and alive inside her.”

As you can see, the writing in Lucky Boy is excellent. This is a story that could be riddled with judgement. Does a person who entered the country illegally have the same rights as its citizens? Can a mother ever consider taking the child of another acceptable? What is it that a child really needs? Sekaran never chose to weigh in. She left those questions to the reader, instead treating all of her characters with equal respect. No storyline ever felt like it got more attention than it deserved. With great finesse she built cases for Ignacio living out his life with both Soli and the Reddys. Ignacio transformed life for the Reddys and was very happy with them, but he was Soli’s child. You wanted them all to be happy, to have Igancio in their lives. This was a book where you knew characters you cared about would be hurt, but Sekaran handled the ending beautifully. Ignacio truly was a lucky boy. Grade: A-

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review.
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This book is stellar! It is both beautifully and brutally wrought. It is gut-wrenching and gritty. It is a story every mother should read. I cried, I cried a lot.
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This is an amazingly well written story about a woman, a married couple and a baby. The characters are fun, but the story develops quite slowly. It's a story full drama, too much for my taste. However, to those who do enjoy it, this will make wonderful choice.
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I really struggled with this novel. I wanted to like it, but I found the clunky complex sentences in particular a strain and couldn't get on with it at all - sorry.
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This book was such a good read. Emotionally, it had me so torn. I wanted to root for the birth mother, but she was so poor and really had nothing to offer this child other than love. The foster parents who wanted to adopt this child had tried for years to have one of their own. They wanted a child so badly. Yes, they didn't know what to do with it when they got it. Those were some pretty funny days at first. However, they had so much to give that child. A home, a bed, clothes, food, schooling, warmth. Oh, it was just so tough.

Thankfully. I didn't have to make that decision. However, I am glad that I did get to go on this journey with Ignacio. While it was a very interesting and eye opening one, I hope I never have to be personally involved in something like this. It's a sad story for both sides. No one ends up winning

What a great read, so glad I got the chance, huge thanks to Penguin Group Putnam for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. A definite winner!
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About one third of the way through the book, I thought I already knew what was going to happen. Well, I was wrong. Kind of. I spent the rest of the book conflicted over how to feel about the book. Not because of whether it was good or bad (it was good), but because I didn't know who to sympathize with. It's hard to create a book where you not only see two sides of both story fairly, but you also feel for both sides and want both sides to find a way to win 

This is a book that covers a lot of issues that are important right now and I highly suggest taking some time to read it.
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I am highly recommending LUCKY BOY by Shanthi Sekaran, particularly for book clubs.  This novel shares stories of two women: Soli is a young teenager who travels illegally to the United States from Mexico and Kavya Reddy is a driven professional who is thinking about starting a family with husband Rishi. Of course, their stories eventually intersect - maybe collide is a better term? And the main reason is the "lucky" boy, Nacho, of the title.

I found LUCKY BOY to be very moving and memorable and was intrigued by the moral choices it explored.  What would prompt Soli to leave loving parents and endure the trauma of entering the United States illegally? Should she give birth to a child conceived on that journey? What factors help and what hinders assimilation? How do US detention centers really function and treat people? Will that be changing in the future? What obligation, if any, do private employers have for their domestic help? How do different cultures and generations view adoption? For Nacho, born in the United States, what childhood experience is best and why?  To what extent should the adults and families involved be considered?

I read LUCKY BOY as an eBook so I did not really notice the length (over four hundred and fifty pages) and would still highly recommend this title, filled with sharp perceptions about life in Berkeley and about American social class strata: 

    "Do you know our people [tech employees] have walked out of Starbucks without paying because they've actually forgotten that the rest of the world pays for its food?"
    "She waited in a chair for two hours. She was learning that being rich in this country meant never having to wait. And being poor, even just a little poor like she was, meant steeping in impatience."
    "More than five million children in the United States have at least one undocumented parent." (author note)

LUCKY BOY will be a likely selection for our upcoming book group.  Here is the link to the Discussion Guide for LUCKY BOY which received multiple starred reviews (Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal): .
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Shanthi Sekaran has written a story that reveals the deepest struggle asked of women in a lifetime. Solimar is very young and an immigrant from Mexico. Kavya is older, the daughter of immigrants from India, who lives in Berkeley. Solimar, or Soli, arrives in the USA pregnant making her life even more complicated than it would be for an undocumented 18 year old. We see Berkeley through Soli's eyes. She reveals what we look like to an impoverished young woman who comes from a village that virtually has nothing. Her parents have been farming corn like their ancestors and everyone who can has left the village for larger cities or the USA. Soli has dreams, but now she has obligations to her unborn child and to her parents who need her to send some money to help them survive.

Kavya is from a family who has done well in Sacramento. She went to UC Berkeley and stayed on with the man she fell in love with, Rishi, a studious guy from Ohio. Rishi's parents have gone back to India and live a good life there. Kavya and Rishi live well in Berkeley. The descriptions of Berkeley create an image of a cozy village contrasting with the barrenness of Soli's Mexican village. Kavya's desire to have a child upturns their lives when she doesn't become pregnant.

The plot lines of the novel present as a thriller, even a car chase thrown into the mix. The novel is intense, the feelings of everyone are written with great skill. The result is a story that will break your heart and then put it back together. I loved this novel and I'm sure it will be a huge success in 2017!

ARC courtesy of NetGalley and G.P. Putnam's Sons (publish date: January 10th 2017).
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