Wednesday, February 28, 2018

LUCKY BOY by Shanthi Sekaran

Kavya and Rishi are a young married couple in Berkeley, trying a little too hard to have a child of their own.  They finally opt for adoption.  Soli is a Mexican teenager who, after a harrowing journey, enters the U.S. illegally and then finds herself pregnant.  The storyline then becomes pretty predictable, as Soli lands in a detention center, and her son Ignacio enters the foster home system.  Eventually, Ignacio is placed with Kavya and Rishi, who are aware that his biological mother is very much alive and may take him back at any time.  This is a heart-wrenching story, and I thought I knew how it would turn out.  I was completely wrong, but I liked my ending better.  In fact, I disliked the ending so much that it tainted the entire book for me.  This is mostly Kavya’s story, but I didn’t find it to be that original.  Soli’s story, on the other hand, is one of perseverance and setbacks, as she negotiates the twists and turns of being an undocumented immigrant in a sometimes hostile country.  Actually, she stumbles upon some really compassionate and helpful people, but her naivet√© puts her in some disastrous situations.  Ultimately, the most disappointing character is Silvia, Soli’s cousin, who gives Soli some good advice and a place to live but then shows the worst possible judgment when Soli turns to her in an emergency.  I found Silvia’s behavior in this critical section of the novel to be inconsistent with her behavior up to that point.  When Soli most needs her help, Silvia abandons her own advice of keeping a low profile and goes off the rails, with the expected consequences.

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