Book Review: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

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A friend recommended this book on Goodreads and on impulse, I checked it out from my library. At a little under 500 pages, it took me two days to finish the book. The story is about two women. Solimar from Mexico who dreams of getting to and building a life in America. Kavya, a Berkeley native who struggles with an all-consuming need to mother.

The story weaves between Mexico and California painting broad strokes that also serve as commentary on the times we live in and the lives we lead. Soli’s son ends up in foster care and Kavya ends up being his foster mother. Does Soli reunite with her son? Does Kavya get the motherhood she yearns for?

The prose is strong and beautiful in parts. The story moves quickly and maintains pace through out. The ending is sufficiently poignant and you close the book wondering what if.

As an adoptive parent and someone who has battled infertility, this book was personal to me in ways it might not affect the average reader.

What affected me most about the book is that it features women of color as protagonists. It depicts them as at the flawed women they are. As an Indian, seeing people like me depicted in mainstream books is a huge high. As I read, I marveled at how well Sekaran avoids the usual tropes. Her portrayal of a second generation Indian is spot on.

I could not help comparing Kavya of Lucky Boy with Dimple of When Dimple Met Rishi. Given that they are two complete genres and they both work well within the genre and audience they target, I still felt Kavya was fleshed better. She is the woman I meet at the bus stop. She is the woman I see doing her groceries while our paths cross. She is the composite woman from all of the versions of my friends and people I interact with.

The other surprising aspect of Lucky Boy I loved was the character of Rishi. The largely silent husband and father. Just when I despaired he would fade away, he is given a new lease of life. As he falls in love with fatherhood and by extension his foster son, I smiled and the smile stayed until the end.

A definite read for those looking for work by Indian origin authors or those intrigued by adoption and immigration.

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