Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lucky Boy

Title:  Lucky Boy
Author:  Shanthi Sekaran
Publication Information:  G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2017. 480 pages.
ISBN:  1101982241 / 978-1101982242

Book Source:  I received this book through Netgalley and the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Clara, patron saint of television and eye disease, stood three feet tall in the church at the end of the road."

Favorite Quote:  "And good intentions? These scared him the most:  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."

Lucky Boy could have ended no other way. At the same time, it is an impossible ending, with joy and heartbreak. Then again, from the very beginning of the book, I know that the ending will be both joy and heartbreak for this is the story of two mothers. Ignacio "Iggy" El Vento Castro Valdez is one lucky boy. He is deeply and enduring loved by both his mothers - Solimar and Kavya. Each woman lives a life completely different from the other except that each is "a mother rabid for her son."

Solimar Castro Valdez is eighteen years old. Born and raised in Santa Clara Popocalco. she buys into the dream of America and the ability of one man to get her there. That dream is shattered along the way, but she holds on. She finds herself in California, pregnant and documented. She finds support and friendship; she gives birth and falls unequivocally in love with her child. She begins to hope that she may make it. Then, a run-in with the law lands her in the the criminal and immigration justice system. The system is not kind to undocumented aliens. She loses herself and loses her child. Her dream begins to dissolve into a nightmare.

On the other hand, Kavya and Rishi Reddy are a Berkeley couple with jobs, a nice house, and a prosperous Berkeley lifestyle. They are not out conquering the world and find themselves lacking in comparisons, but nevertheless, they lead a quiet stable life. Their life seems complete except for one thing; they have been unable to have children. Gradually, that fact begins to define and consume Kavya; a sense of desperation pervades their household. Upon Solimar's misfortune, Kavya and Rishi become Iggy's foster parents. They fall unequivocally in love with him, and life begins to feel perfect.

Iggy is surrounded by love and care in both home. He is a US citizen by birth. His birth mother is an undocumented alien from a poor Mexican village. She loves him and wants him and wants to give him the best life she possibly can. His foster parents are economically stable in the United States. They too want him and want to give him the best life they possibly can.  The courts attempt to look at the welfare of the child.

Through this heartbreaking story, this book documents so many serious societal issues. Infertility. Motherhood. The conundrum when a child is a citizen but the parent is not. Adoption. Debate surrounding immigration and the treatment of immigrants. The book grounds the big issues through the characters of Solimar and Kavya. I empathize with both.

I know throughout the book that this book is going to end in sadness for one of them, but I keep unrealistically hoping that somehow it will work out for both of them. I read the book straight through almost in one sitting to find out and am left with the question posed close to the end that applies to both Solimar's and Kavya's lives. "Sometimes the things that happen can be changed. Sometimes they cannot. Which time is this?"

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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