- About the Book
A gripping tale of adventure and searing reality, Lucky Boy gives voice to two mothers bound together by their love for one lucky boy.Solimar Castro Valdez is eighteen and drunk on optimism when she embarks on a perilous journey across the US/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.Lucky Boy is an emotional journey that will leave you certain of the redemptive beauty of this world. There are no bad guys in this story, no obvious hero.From rural Oaxaca to Berkeleys Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon valley, author Shanthi Sekaranhas taken real life and applied it to fiction; the results are moving and revelatory.From the Hardcover edition.
The novel's plodding and stilted prose is laden with melodrama, flat metaphors and odd phrasing.... Although Soli and Kavya's experiences and losses evoke a reader's compassion and sympathy, Lucky Boy doesn't find its focus and footing to succinctly convey how different paths and obstacles to motherhood shape one's identity.... These are complicated questions, and while Lucky Boy attempts to answer them through the connected path of motherhood and immigration, this novel's rambling journey stumbles before reaching its intended destination.
In her new novel Lucky Boy, Shanthi Sekaran has drawn the truest map of incipient motherhood I have yet read. She gives voice to every anxiety, every fierce need, capturing the vulnerability of immersing one's self in love for a child.... Rarely does a novel set in the Bay Area do justice to this place without becoming either self-satisfied or satirical. The Berkeley of Lucky Boy is a loving mix of town and gown, progressive politics and serious privilege.... The novel isn't perfect, stumbling sometimes in the details as it reaches for breadth.... With wit, empathy and a page-turning plot, the novel stirs ethical questions in the reader that the author rightly refuses to answer. Shanthi Sekaran has written a tender, artful story of the bravery of loving in the face of certain grief, and there's nothing more certain than the eventual separation of every mother from her child. It waits for us from their very first breath.
—San Francisco Chronicle
—San Francisco Chronicle
If John Gardner is to be believed, then there are only two plots in all of literature: "A person goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town." In her sweeping, deep and strikingly compassionate second novel, "Lucky Boy," Shanthi Sekaran weaves these two elemental narratives with emotionally arresting aplomb.... Topical and timely, but thankfully neither pedantic nor preachy, Sekaran's book invites the reader to engage empathetically with thorny geopolitical issues that feel organic and fully inhabited by her finely rendered characters. Because of the way Sekaran examines the vagaries of economic inequality and the messiness of love in addition to the intricacies of immigration and adoption, "Lucky Boy" would make a promising pick for a book club. The circumstances feel well-researched, but Sekaran never lets that research get in the way of what is, at its core, a gripping story.
Sekaran makes no easy judgments. She does the hard work of a thorough fiction writer and presents flawed characters aching with humanity.... This novel takes its time, and it could probably be shorter without losing much of its impact. But Sekaran's prose is swift and engaging, her storytelling confident enough to justify the scenic route.... It's easy to imagine the lives of these characters even off the page. Lucky Boy pulses with vitality, pumped with the life breath of human sin and love.
The novel's expansive scope and thoughtful exploration of these issues are deeply engrossing for readers. When, then, a final crisis perpetuates a brisk, even hasty, conclusion, the result can feel a little jarring. This abrupt denouement, as well as the ethically complicated circumstances leading to it, will likely result in some spirited conversations in book groups and elsewhere. LUCKY BOY effectively puts human faces on an issue that is often discussed solely in broad, general terms.
Lucky Boy is an ambitious novel that braids together two complex stories about family and parenting and also takes on the issues of immigration, class privilege and mass incarceration. Though her plot falters toward the end of the novel, Sekaran's characters are drawn with such deep compassion that the reader will stick with the book all the way to its somewhat outlandish conclusion.
—Dallas Morning News
—Dallas Morning News
Lucky Boy is both a contemporary page-turner (in the model of Chris Bohjalian's novels) and a model of delicate, artful writing that lets us see an entire world contemporary Berkeley, or, rather, two different versions of it from its characters' eyes. And its descriptions of the emotional rush of parenthood are often strikingly lovely.