[Book Review #84] ARC: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran


Solimar Castro Valdez is eighteen and dazed with 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 Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon valley, author Shanthi Sekaran has taken real life and applied it to fiction; the results are moving and revelatory.

Book Specifications:

Author: Shanthi Sekaran

Format: ARC

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

No. of Pages: 384 pages

Price: $17.99

Genre: New Adult, Realistic Fiction, Immigration, Family

Book Review:


Get the book from National Book Store or Fully Booked!

Massive thanks to Penguin Random House International for sending a review copy of this book my way. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.

After reading Nicola Yoon’s cute, and impressive take on immigration in The Sun Is Also A Star, I can’t help but feel curious as to how it really is to be an undocumented immigrant in the United States. Albeit said title being my favorite read of 2016, I just knew that there was more to it than just being deported, and falling instantly in love with someone. I craved for a story that could enlighten, and maybe educate me about illegal immigrants, and Lucky Boy is the novel that ended my search for such a book.

Lucky Boy was written in an amazingly moving way. Albeit having felt that there were a lot of unnecessary details that didn’t contribute that much to the overall story, which honestly made me feel like the most was a little too dragging for me during the first hundred pages. Once I got the hang of the writing technique, though, I breezed through the book. It was only then that I realized that Shanthi Sekaran had her own unique and moving way of telling stories: one from the perspective of a mother who’s an illegal immigrant, and one from the perspective of a desperate woman who wanted so badly to be a mother.

Also, I liked the sequence of the scenes. At first, since readers most probably wasn’t accustomed to the writing yet, I think it’s a given that they won’t feel the grip of the story instantly, but once a certain scene plays out (like the arrest of Solimar’s), I think it’ll be hard for everyone to stop reading it. That was the case for me, to be honest. From there, the story will just develop, leaving readers with a thirst for enlightenment, and a certain type of wanting for the next scenes to play out as written.

And lastly, I can’t help but point out how timely, and relevant this book is. With recent events surfacing, I think it’s needless to say just how much I want for my friends, specifically for those in The United States, to get a chance to read this. Get ready to cringe, cry, feel, and ache for two mothers, bound by the love for one lucky boy.

“Overall, Lucky Boy is definitely a book that’s worth the read, most especially for those who like reading thought-provoking stories, that won’t just leave you turning the pages, craving to know what’s next, but will also make you feel for it’s characters in a different, genuine level.”


Characters – 4.50

Plot – 5.00

Writing Style – 5.00

Pacing – 5.00

Ending – 4.00

TOTAL – 4.7 / 5 Stars

Quotable Quotes:

“People with good intentions tended not to question themselves. And people who didn’t question themselves, in the scientific world and beyond, were the ones to watch out for.”

“To love profoundly, and be loved. To shape her own blood and body into sparkling new life. She could be home to someone, a safe and soft place in a world of ragged edges.”

“Now that she could be still, safe in the light, she sensed something heavy and dead within. She would use it one day, that heavy dead thing. She would care for it like a baby. She would relish it’s violence. And one day, it will serve her well.”

About The Author:


Shanthi Sekaran was born and raised in California, and now splits her time between Berkeley and London. A graduate of UC Berkeley and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, she was first published in Best New American Voices 2004 (Harcourt). Her novel, Lucky Boy, was released on January 2017.

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