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Lucky Boy

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  11,423 ratings  ·  1,708 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 472 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Shanthi Hi everyone! It's wonderful to hear from readers here. Thanks for reading and supporting my book. If you're interested in more interviews/essays, my w…moreHi everyone! It's wonderful to hear from readers here. Thanks for reading and supporting my book. If you're interested in more interviews/essays, my website features a lot of them, and I try to keep it updated with my events and new interviews and articles. Take care and happy reading!(less)

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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,423 ratings  ·  1,708 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I first started this I wasn't sure if this is one I would like. The writing was good so I continued and am so glad I did. This is a wonderful story, a devastating one and a timely one. Two women, one Soli, illegally in the US, went through so much to get here, not an easy trip. The second a young Indian woman, Kavya, who wants desperately to have a child. Married to Rishi, they have been trying without success. Two women, one little boy named Ignacio, who will steal your heart and wrap it a ...more
Angela M
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it

This really timely story is a heartbreaking one about an undocumented young woman, Soli, who takes risks for hopes of a better life, risks which were more dangerous than she ever imagined as she leaves her family in Mexico to make her way to the US. Soli's story is told in conjunction with the alternating narrative of a young couple of Indian descent, Kayva and Rishi who want desperately to have a child but are not successful in their attempts to conceive. They are ultimately connected by a baby
Elyse  Walters
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Boy.....this is a timely - heartfelt book!!!!! Kudos to the author!!!

Kayvan had moved to Berkeley eighteen years earlier for college. She graduated,
traveled, became a chef, and married Rishi. After nine months of trying to get pregnant with no success -they were looking into adoption. Their plans took a detour when they became foster parents to a little boy - a toddler named Ignacio. They hoped to adopt him.

Solimar Castro Valdez makes plans to meet her cousin in Berkeley. She needs to make it
Cathrine ☯️
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Update 3/4/17: Today in my local town 2 parents were deported to Mexico and were forced to leave their US born child here (thankfully with relatives). I have updated my original rating because though I was not in love with the style of storytelling, it nevertheless brings this sad state of affairs into the light and it's going to become a more prominent issue.
Infertility, foster parenting, and undocumented immigration across the Mexican/US border are the focus of two stories that will connect
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The heartbreaking journey of two women, bound by the love of a baby boy, was so NOT a book I wanted to read. It sounded like a potboiler romance…that is, until I actually started it and didn’t want to come up for air. The writing was so mesmerizing, the situation so poignant and the characters so authentic that I found myself staying up past my self-appointed bedtime to read “just another page.”

There are two key characters here: Kavya, daughter of Indian immigrants, who has always taken control
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"She'd learned the lesson that all women learn sooner or later. If there was something to be done, she'd have to do it herself."

"There is a beast in all of us. Only the worst things can bring it ripping through the human veneer."

This is one of the most powerful books I have read so far this year. While the title is "Lucky Boy," I'm not sure that anyone in this timely novel could be considered "lucky."

Young and naive, Solimar (Soli) Castro-Valdez leaves Mexico on a wing and a prayer in hopes of
I felt such a wide range of emotions reading this book that it is hard for me to write a review that will make others understand why it meant so much to me but here we go... The two main characters in this book are woman who feel like they are not enough and desperately love the same child, and use their love for this child to get them through some very rough times. Soli left her small town in Mexico because she was the only one her age left and she felt like she could be more in America than sh ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
[3.9] This was a painful novel for me to read, given the recent headlines about children being ripped from their parents at our borders. I'm glad I persisted. It was well done and quite gripping. One quibble - for a 469-page sprawling novel, the ending felt too abrupt, especially Kavya's story. ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prizeworthy
If any readers are skeptical that vibrant, tingling, page-turning storytelling can also be literary, I’m convinced that LUCKY BOY could change your mind. Saturated with ethical questions about maternal love, privilege, boundaries, and the immigrant experience, the story tells itself without any authorial interference. Hard questions have no soft answers, and the reader, while adventuring through morally complex lines and barriers, will surely be exhilarated and full of empathy for all the primar ...more
Unexpectedly involving, emotional, heartbreaking, poignant. Lucky Boy turned out to be the hidden gem this year. This was an emotionally powerful book highlighting some issues with no right answers.

It's Bollywood, Telenovela and a soap opera combined, with its cliched, predictable and episodic plot. The writing is good but not great. But oh was it a riveting story and so incredibly timely with so much substance and poignancy. It angered me and cause me to explore why a country would consciously
Julie Christine
When I retrieved Lucky Boy from the holds shelf at the library, I groaned in dismay. It's the July read for my book club, but no one mentioned at our last meeting that it weighs in at nearly 500 pages. My mind went immediately to Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, which I loved and is admittedly three times longer, but it took me weeks to wend my way through. I didn't have that kind of time or worse, the needed attention span.

Not to worry. Lucky Boy captured me in its opening pages and held me for t
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars

I have started this review 3 times now. I think there is just too much to say about this book as it tackles some heavy situations and emotional trauma is rife. Whether these situations were avoidable was a big question for me for most of the book. By the end, I stopped judging by my own standards and was engaged in the characters as the author intended them to be read, and of the decisions that they made.

Probably not the best written of the books I have read, but certainly engaging and m
Rachel León
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, 2017
Sekaran has woven a rich compelling story here. The novel juxtaposes two women's lives--one a middle class woman living in Berkeley, the other a poor undocumented immigrant. The latter leaves Mexico on a dangerous journey which leaves her pregnant with limited resources. Ultimately both women want the same things--the immigrant's baby. The story tackles several issues--immigration, rape, adoption, and foster care. I work in foster care so inauthenticity in such storylines is a true pet peeve of ...more
Stephanie Anze
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"Acceptance couldn't be graphed. Nor could love."

Solimar "Soli" Castro Valdez is from Popocalco, a small town near Oacaxa. Eighteen and naive, she is ready to leave and join her cousin Sylvia in Berkely, California. Making the treacherous journey illegally into the United States, Soli arrives heartbroken and pregnant at her cousin's doorstep. Not far reside Kavya and Rishi Reddy, an Indian-American couple. They have it all except for a child, which they want desperately. When Soli's son winds up
Susanne  Strong
My heart is broken. And many tears were shed.

Lucky Boy is a gut wrenching, soul searching novel by Shanthi Sekaran that keeps a tight grip on you and won't let go until long after you've read it.

This story is about two women: mothers, who love the same little boy. But only one can will be able to keep him when all is said and done. And who is to say what's fair, what's right or wrong, when a little boy's life and when love is at stake?

Soli is an illegal immigrant from Mexico and she is also t
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written novel about motherhood. Kavya is an Indian American woman who is married to Rishi. Her deepest longing is to have a child. She feels she’s failed at so many things in life and this is something else that she has failed at as she’s been unable to have a child. She and her husband begin to talk about adopting. Soli is a young woman living in Mexico who longs for a better life. She manages to illegally immigrate to America but her high hopes fall apart when she learns ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
3.5 stars
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this story of Soli, a young girl who leaves Mexico for a better life in America. On her way she meets Checo, and ends up pregnant as she arrives in the States. Her cousin helps her find a job cleaning for a wealthy family in Berkeley CA. She delivers a baby boy named Ignacio Across town, a young couple are trying unsuccessfully to conceive. When Soli and her cousin are caught by immigration, baby Ignacio is sent to foster care. Rishi & Kavya bring the baby into their home and grow to lov ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, arc
Soli Valdez is eighteen and desperate to leave Mexico. Bored with the day-to-day monotony of her quiet existence, she’s ready for an adventure. So she makes a plan to meet up with her older cousin who lives in Berkeley, California. If she can just make it across the border, her cousin assures her there will be a job and a place to stay waiting for her.

Soli does make it to California, but not before enduring, well, a lot. When she finally arrives at Silvia’s doorstep, she is dirty, beaten, abused
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This book is so timely with all of the immigration issues that our country is facing right now, this novel couldn’t have come out at a better time.

For me this book is personal in several ways. First of all my father was an immigrant from Mexico 70+ years ago when he had to have a sponsor and a job in this country and learn English to gain citizenship. He from Oaxaca city in Mexico and I just visited there 2 years ago.

One of my daughters has gone through 3 years of infertility work ups culminatin
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding writing about the disastrous state of our immigration system as told through the eyes of an immigrant. This was very thought provoking to me. Considering the title; I'm left wondering is it really so? Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. ...more
St. Gerard Expectant Mothers
This is one of those books that I couldn't put down. Lucky Boy is family saga involving two different woman of separate socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. The first is illegal Mexican immigrant Solimar "Soli" Castro who is pregnant and makes a harrowing journey across the California border and into the city of Berkley. The other is Kavya Reddy of Indian descent who struggles with infertility. Both their paths cross when Soli is jailed for fraud and illegal immigration leading for Kavya and ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In writing this novel, author Shanthi Sekaram was inspired by a news report of an undocumented Guatemalan woman who was attempting to regain custody of her son who was being adopted by his foster parents. She was interested in the motivations of both parties; she wanted to understand both parties.

Sekaram is a first generation American whose parents were fortunate to find a workable way to live legally in the USA. The plight of undocumented immigrants are an interest to her; she sees her life as
Megan Tristao
Ughhhh book hangover. I read more than 400 pages yesterday. Then I frantically tried to finish on the train this morning but had to slow down to savor the last few pages because I realized I didn't want it to end. This is one of my new go-to reading recommendations.

My review/blurb for the San Jose Public Library blog: "I'll admit I picked this book up because I loved the cover (yes, I totally judge books by their covers), but now I can't stop recommending it to everyone I know. This beautiful no
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fbc-18
Though it's called Lucky Boy, this book weaves together two women's stories and doesn't spare much attention for the little boy in the center of it all. He acts as a prop and mostly enters scenes to be loved and have his hair smelled. We spend almost all our time with Kavya, an Indian-American woman in Berkeley who longs for a child, and Soli, a Mexican woman who (eventually) has a son named Ignacio. Ignacio (even more eventually) ends up in Kavya's care.

Here's the problem with Soli's narrative:
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.

One of the novel's paired protagonists, 18-year-old Solimar Castro-Valdez, or Soli, bravely sets off on the fraught journey to cross the border from Mexico to the United States, only to
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lucky Boy is about 2 women. One who escapes Mexico into the United States and try to make a life in California as an illegal. Then the other who desperately wants a baby but having a hard time conceiving.

I listened to the audiobook of this as well as have a hard copy and I enjoyed this so much. The narrator did a fantastic job with the story. A must read!!!
Erin Glover
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-stars
That dark hole of infertility that brings a rollercoaster of emotions, makes couples question the meaning of life, threatens marriages, and brings then steals hope invades Kavya and Rishi’s lives. Of Indian descent, Kavya’s mother reminds her that adoption would dirty the bloodline.

As they struggle with their limited choices, they compare themselves to another Indian couple, Preeti Patel and Vikram Sen who also live in Berkeley, California. Preeti Patel is Kavya’s childhood friend and their par
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I heard frequently from our book club members was that this was a book that they would have not picked up on their own and that it ended up being a favorite this month. The best part, for me, was also hearing that it changed people's viewpoints and made them more empathetic to refugees and immigrants that have come to America.

This story is about two women- one who is in her teens and coming to the states illegally and the other who is living the American dream version of the immigrant story
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Ignacio, a little boy born to Soli, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and being cared for in foster care by Kavya and Rishi, who are unable to have children of their own. All the adults love him deeply and want to raise him as best they can, which makes him a very lucky boy.
But Soli ends up in an immigration detention center facing eventual deportation, and Kavya and Rishi want to adopt Ignacio, who is a US citizen. They can offer him a good life in the US, but Soli is h
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Goodreads Librari...: Page count correction - Lucky Boy 2 10 Jan 04, 2019 07:36PM  
Play Book Tag: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran - 4 stars 1 15 Aug 06, 2018 05:08PM  
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Shanthi Sekaran was born and raised in California, and now lives in Berkeley. Her recent novel, Lucky Boy, was named an IndieNext Great Read, an Amazon Editors' Pick, and a Best Book of 2017. It was also the Penguin Random House "One World, One Book" selection for 2017. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Huffington Post, Mutha Magazine, and The Rumpus. H

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