Wednesday, February 8, 2017

#BookReview: LUCKY BOY by Shanthi Sekaran

Summary: Solimar Castro-Valdez is eighteen and drunk on optimism when she embarks on a perilous journey across the U.S./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.

Review: Who deserves to be a mother? Is it determined by your station in life? By your wealth? Perhaps by your citizenship status? Lucky Boy asks, and sometimes answers, all of these questions and more.

In Soli’s story, we see a young undocumented mother that’s come to the U.S. from her small town in Mexico where jobs have dried up. Her journey hasn’t been easy, but she’s working for a wealthy, white family and saving money for the baby she didn’t know she was carrying. Giving birth to him in America makes him a U.S. citizen, but she is not, regardless of what her papers say. Her cousin’s recklessness lands her in detainment and she’s scheduled to be deported without her son.

What could be your typical wealthy white family taking advantage of an undocumented immigrant comes with a spin when the typical wealthy white family is instead a somewhat comfortable Indian American family. Does that change the dynamic just a bit?

Kavya is the whirlwind that has fascinated Rishi for years. But her new obsession with having a baby is something he can’t reconcile with the free spirit that is his wife. While he doesn’t readily take to fostering Ignacio, he grows to love him and the family that the three of them have created. Though he’s repeatedly reminded Kavya that this is just temporary, he finds himself forgetting that, especially when Ignacio begins calling his dada. They're good people for raising someone else's child, right? But are they good people for wanting to keep that child from its mother?

This book! From chapter to chapter, I changed who I was rooting for. Ignacio is Soli’s baby, but is she in the position to raise a child? She’s his mother though, right? And Kavya and Rishi have created such a good life for Ignacio, but is it fair of the wealthy American citizens to keep an immigrant’s son from her? Like I said, this book!

480 p
Published: January 2017

Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

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