Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Luck is Just the Beginning

Rate this book
This title is published by Floricanto and Berkeley Presses. When nineteen-year-old Ramón León wins the Puerto Rican lottery, he believes his promise to establish the first dental and medical clinic in his village will be achievable. But a chain of catastrophic events intervenes. Luck is Just the Beginning is not only an enchanting story of the joys and sorrows of family, but also the saga of one man’s determination to see his dream through.

Luck is Just the Beginning is the gripping story of heartbreak, courage and self-sacrifice, of one man’s struggle to find the right path to his dream. It will take your breath away and warm your heart. David Sundstrand, author of Shadow of the Raven, Shadows of Death

Celeste León takes the reader on a deeply affecting voyage, balancing the luckiest man in Maunabo’s dreams and aspirations against the push and pull of a tightly-knit community. Emotionally pitch-perfect and skillfully written, this historical novel transports the reader on an unforgettable journey to a time and place most of us have never known. Désirée Zamorano, author of The Amado Women

Luck is Just the Beginning announces the arrival of a gifted and intuitive writer whose heart, grace, and compassion will surely win her a devoted readership. With skill and precision, Celeste León explores the complexities of family, home, and heritage in a refreshing, new way. León’s debut novel places her among the most exciting Latina writers working today. Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego León, Still Water Saints

Celeste León’s award-winning stories were published in: Chicken Soup for the Soul, Celebrating People Who Make a Difference, the Preservation Foundation and www.beliefnet.com. She won First Prize for her essay, Finding Home, about her travels to Puerto Rico in search of her family roots, awarded by High Sierra Writers in Reno, Nevada. Celeste is a physical therapist who lives in Truckee, CA with her family.

Visit her at www.celesteleon.com or www.celestejleon.blogspot.com

350 pages, Paperback

First published November 23, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Celeste Leon

3 books18 followers
Luck is Just the Beginning earned First Place in the 2018 Latino Books into Movies Awards, a Mariposa Award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards and Finalist in Multicultural Fiction in the 2016 International Book Awards. The book is inspired by the true story of author Celeste León's father and was released by Floricanto Press in November 2015.
When nineteen-year-old Ramón León wins the Puerto Rican lottery, he believes his promise to establish the first dental and medical clinic in his village will be achievable. But an unexpected chain of catastrophic events intervenes. Luck is Just the Beginning is not only an enchanting story of the joys and sorrows of family, but also the saga of one man's determination to never give up on his dream. Visit Celeste at www.celesteleon.com for more information and where books are available from the author, Amazon, book stores and online sellers.

Celeste Leon was named one of the Top Ten New Latino Authors of 2017 by LatinoStories.com. Her award winning short stories, A Lucky Man, and Sharing Luck, were published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating People Who Make a difference, as well as in www.beliefnet.com and for the Preservation Foundation (www.storyhouse.org). Her children's story, Ramón's Lucky Toothache, was published in 2019.
Celeste is a 2013 alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She is the recipient of First Prize in the annual contest for the High Sierra Writers group in Reno, Nevada for her essay, Finding Home, about her travels to Puerto Rico in search of her family roots. Celeste is a physical therapist and lives in Truckee, CA with her family.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
6 (33%)
4 stars
9 (50%)
3 stars
3 (16%)
2 stars
0 (0%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Mayra.
Author 28 books200 followers
July 6, 2016
Based on a true story, Celeste Leon’s beautifully written debut novel is the story of a young man in 1940s Puerto Rico who wins the lottery, only to realize that, as the title states, luck is just the beginning.

Young Ramon is able to see visions, a gift he inherited from his mother. When he sees a number flash across the sky, he decides to buy a complete lottery ticket. At first, he’s thrilled to have won a fortune, for his plan is to go to college, become a dentist, and make the world a better place by helping the people of his village. But, as it turns out, money changes a lot of things—people’s intentions, expectations, desires—even one self’s, and not always for the better. Now, people approach Ramon because they want something from him, and he starts to doubt everyone, even the girl who claims to love him. Likewise, he starts doing things he later regrets.

This is the era of WWII, and in the midst of it all Ramon tries to face the challenges that threaten to destroy his life, especially a man whose envy has made Ramon his target for revenge. Overnight, all facets of Ramon’s life turn upside down—his dwindling family business, his relationship with Elsie, his dream to go to college in the States. At some point, even the police are after him.

The novel is rich with Puerto Rican flavor and historical details, and Leon writes with simplicity yet profound perception about human nature. Ramon is an endearing, utterly likable character—an honest, good-hearted man who makes mistakes yet rises above them.

Luck is Just the Beginning was honored with a Mariposa award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards, and was also a finalist in the “Fiction: Multicultural” category of the 2016 International Book Awards.
Profile Image for L.F. Falconer.
Author 19 books74 followers
May 31, 2016
When young Ramon wins the lottery he soon learns that money doesn't solve all one's problems--it often invites more.

I enjoyed this rags-to-riches story which is based upon true events. The author instantly plunked me down into a poorer Puerto Rican world, brought to life through vivid imagery, language, and delicately detailed descriptions. Ramon proved to be a captivating character; strong willed, and filled with youthful innocence, yet possessing a fiery, often short-fused temper and occasional lapses in better judgment which lead him into a variety of tangled predicaments as he struggles to see his life's dream come true with his newly acquired wealth.

A heart-warming slice of life which proves the true powers of endurance, perseverance, and family ties. Highly recommended!

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kate Vane.
Author 6 books77 followers
December 23, 2019
In Luck Is Just the Beginning, Celeste León draws on the true story of her father. Ramón León is a young man living in a village in Puerto Rico towards the end of World War II when he decides one day to play the lottery. In fact he has a premonition so strong he spends his savings on a whole page of tickets. Generally in fiction you would assume this was a key sign that everything was about to go very wrong. However, Ramón wins.

For Ramón it means he will be able to fulfil his dream of going to college in Michigan and becoming a dentist. The genesis of his dream is that as a young boy he became the protégé of Doctor Roberts, an American dentist who was an aid worker in the village. Ramón helped him with his patients, learnt all he could from him and saw the impact that his work had on the quality of life in his community. When Doctor Roberts died, Ramón pledged that he would follow his example.

Ramón sets out to pursue his dream, but he encounters a number of obstacles along the way. His good fortune has upset the dynamics of his close-knit community. His brother feels resentment. Everyone has a hard luck story and wants him to help them. Trujillo, a man with significant local business interests, feels cheated due to the gambler’s fallacy – he believes the win should have been his, because the number that came up was one that he usually bought.

Trujillo sets out to make life difficult for Ramón and his family. Ramón’s mother and brother both own local businesses and he persuades many in the community to boycott them. He also threatens violence to Ramón and his girlfriend. Ramón responds by turning the other cheek and befriending Trujillo’s young son, which inflames the situation more.

Ramón also finds himself suddenly in a different social circle. His new-found wealth means he is allowed to court Elsie, the daughter of the local police chief, and falls under the spell of Antonio, an affluent young man who has already been to college in the US.

The novel is interesting in its depiction of the place and time, and the complex relationships in the village. Ramón’s mother, Chepa, is particularly striking – as well as running her shop she provides informal medical care and acts as the midwife to the village. She is a strong character who people turn to for advice, as well as someone who has a profound sense of belief and even claims to have psychic or intuitive powers. It seems she was as much of an example to Ramón as Doctor Roberts.

I like the way that there are hints of the world beyond the village, but that these are seen through the point of view of Ramón who, at this age and with limited experience, struggles with the implications. There are his brother’s insights about the racism he experienced in the army, and his conflict with a German university lecturer.

The novel has the quality of a fable. Ramón’s assertion of a premonition about the win is taken at face value. The characters are easily identifiable as good or bad and there are no major surprises in the reversals which Ramón encounters. There are moments that hint at greater ambiguity, such as when Ramón and Trujillo, his nemesis, discuss the music of Mozart and his rivalry with Salieri.

There is also some nice observation when Ramón attends a class to improve his English at the local university. Because of the GI Bill the only class with vacancies is devoted to the novels of Charles Dickens. Ramón’s incomprehension provides some nice comic moments but then as his English improves he gleans insights into his own situation from his reading of Great Expectations.

Ramón is quietly heroic. Even when he makes mistakes he is quick to acknowledge them. He berates himself for his one extravagance on receiving the money. He is strongly rooted in his family and his community and this reinforces his courage as he is about to move into a world very different from where he grew up.
I received a copy of Luck Is Just the Beginning from the author.
Profile Image for Amy.
269 reviews7 followers
March 11, 2016
I was in utter amazement of how well written this book was, that I couldn't put it down! I was drawn immediately into the fullness of this true story, it's depth of emotions, struggle, family, God and how service to others comes into play in our lives. It definitely will get you to reflect on moments in your life where perhaps you've struggled and have wondered the purpose of it. It shows how we can find our way out of any challenges in our lives with faith in God, ourselves, support of our families and our community. It also demonstrates our need in our world for honest, integrity driven people, and clarifies that we are all capable of reaching out and helping someone in need. This book clearly shows we are all connected in more ways than we could ever imagine, and that there is purpose for everyone we meet in our lives. If you want a wholesome, feel good book, this is your book! Thanks for allowing me to be a Goodreads winner of this book, and having the chance to experience it firsthand!
1 review1 follower
February 15, 2016
This book written by Celeste Leon is a compassionate and educational read that will warm your heart. The novel is set in Puerto Rico in the 1940s and outlines the scenario that Ramon Leon goes through to achieve his dream. It shows what one can achieve in life with determination and skill. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about history and family in the Latina commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Leon's debut novel places her among the most exciting Latina writers today. Vanessa Leon Roth, Celeste's sister
Profile Image for Mntnmama.
85 reviews
May 24, 2017
I heard this story for 10 years before we encouraged Celeste to write it and then supported her for the next 10 while she did. It is a story that needed to be told and that we all need to hear. It restores us no matter who we are or where we come from.

It's a true tale about Celeste's father and at it's heart is the true determination of the human story. Ramon Leon, a poor boy in Puerto Rico, wins the lottery and struggles with the emotions--excitement, hope, and some guilt--to ultimately accomplish his dreams. His sheer drive to better himself and his community takes us from his humble beginning in poverty, to attending college in Michigan without knowing a word of English, then coming back to Puerto Rico to share his good fortune with the people he knew and loved.

It's a must read. A story of wishes come true and of true grit. A reminder for us all to hold on to and believe in our dreams.

P.S. Absolutely loved her Abuela!!!
February 27, 2016
"Brava" to the author, Celeste Leon, on her first novel!
The reader is pleasantly transported, as if in a time warp, to a small village in Puerto Rico in the 1940's. All the sights, sounds & sentiments are poetically recreated as the complications of winning the lottery for a single man and his village is revealed in this poignant story. I found myself not wanting to put this book down and was both inspired and teary-eyed when it was over....perhaps she'll write more? I highly recommend it for all ages! An overwhelming two thumbs up
Profile Image for Dorothy Rice.
Author 2 books20 followers
October 25, 2016
Luck is Just the Beginning is the heart-felt and moving story of a young man's determination and struggles to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a dentist and helping the residents of his small Puerto Rican hometown. I would recommend it for young adults and adults looking to be inspired. I also thoroughly enjoyed the depiction of World War II era Puerto Rico and the nuances of the language and culture in a close knit family struggling with economic hardship and doing so with grace.
1 review
May 22, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Luck is Just the Beginning, in fact I did not want it to end. It was a heartwarming read in which I laughed, cried and smiled. I enjoyed the author’s writing style in which I was captivated from the first chapter. I so appreciated the depiction of the main character’s tenaciousness and love of family. I am hoping for a sequel!
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.