Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “America for Beginners” as Want to Read:
America for Beginners
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

America for Beginners

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  3,330 ratings  ·  612 reviews
Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.

Pival Sengupta has done something she never expec
Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 30th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published July 24th 2018)
More Details... edit details

Win a Copy of This Book

  • America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
    America for Beginners
    Release date: Jul 30, 2019
    "Compelling... A strong contemporary story about cross-cultural alliances, the bonds of family and what it means to 'learn America.'" - USA Today


    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 30 copies available, 3256 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Jul 05 - Jul 28, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

  • Friend Reviews

    To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
    This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    3.92  · 
    Rating details
     ·  3,330 ratings  ·  612 reviews

    More filters
    Sort order
    Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    4 stars
    This is a fictional story of Pival Sengupta, a wealthy widow from Kolkata, India. Her husband Ram has been dead for several months and she decides to go to the United States, ostensibly to take a guided tour, but in reality to find out if her gay son Rahi is alive or dead. When he came out to his parents, his father disowned him and forbade him from all future contact. Ram received a phone call shortly after Rahi announced that he was gay. Ram told Pival that Rahi was dead. But she never
    Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    America for Beginners is an extraordinary debut by Leah Franqui. Once I finished the book, it gave me a tremendous sense of lightness and hope. It is something I wanted from a book for a while as I struggle to find a sense of hope from the world nowadays. After so many authors telling me what is wrong with the world and humanity, it warmed my heart to read something that told what was beautiful about humanity.

    In a world where nations and society are constantly looking inwards, America for Begin
    When I saw this book featured on Goodreads and read the summary, I thought I would enjoy the book. As I read the first few chapters and realized that one of the main characters is a Hindu Bangladeshi Bengali from Sylhet, like myself, I was even more excited to keep reading. I’ve never read a book that had such a character. Usually a book has a Bangladeshi character, they are Muslim since the country’s population is 90% Muslim. But as I kept reading, it was obvious that the author has no idea abo ...more
    Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recently widowed Pival Sengupta is 60 and has never left Kolkata. Her late husband Ram had told her that their son Rahi died in Los Angeles but Pavil never really accepted the news and now she is planning her first trip ever to find out the truth for herself. Rosni (Ronnie) Munshi owns a travel agency in New York that books tours for Indian and Pakistani tourists. He is from Bangladesh, a fact that he tries to hide from his clients. Pavil pays for a two week tour of America and requests both a p ...more
    America for Beginners is the first novel written by Leah Franqui. It has many fine points, but also some disappointments along the way. The book is billed as a travel story where Pival Sangupta, recently widowed, is visiting America from India to find her estranged son. Before we get to traveling, however, the reader has to endure 110 pages of backstory on the many characters who would contribute to this journey. I kept saying ‘enough’, let’s get to the traveling. I did enjoy the tour and how th ...more
    Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: arc
    I gave this book my sincere attention for around 30 pages before it started losing my interest. It was at this point that I realized why, after a while, the pages started feeling so laborious to get through. The summary, which describes the story as being about a woman traveling across America? It takes a third of the book for Pival to even get there (that's around 100 pages). Apparently it was very important that the story switch POV between 5 different characters and that you know their backst ...more
    Mansi Kabra
    Aug 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    I don't write reviews so a book has to be very special for me to write something more than few words and most of this is blabber and most of the times i give authors benefit of doubt that may be they didn't want to portray whatever they portrayed in such a way but I guess this time I am not doing any such thing.

    Everything wrong with America for Beginners by Leah Franqui.
    (Yes I am writing all the wrongs, as many people have already written about what they liked about this book so I am not spendin
    Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    What a curious and complex cast of characters Leah Frangui created for her debut novel. A wealthy but naive widow from Kolkata with a Bangladeshi immigrant posing as an Indian tour guide and a feisty down-and-out actress as companion lead the troupe in their (and the reader's vicarious) journey across the USA. Add to these the voices of the vividly drawn supporting characters and there emerges a narrative that is compelling in its humor and its pathos. At some scenes I laughed out loud; at other ...more
    Martha Bullen
    Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This is the book I needed right now. It was a terrific way to travel vicariously while cooped up inside during a recent cold spell, and it offered a heart-warming portrait of three diverse, complex characters who became unlikely traveling companions.

    I was charmed by the main character, Pival Sengupta, from the first page. I sympathized with her desire to flee her suffocating home in Kolkata after her husband’s death and, daringly, travel solo to America for a cross-country trip in search of her
    Kate ☀️ Olson
    Thanks to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for this free review copy!
    What a heartwarming and eye opening view of the US from an foreigner's perspective ~ I learned so much about my own country during the course of this novel, as well as about India and Bangladesh. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS brings us an Indian widow learning to be alone and coming to terms with her son's sexuality and her own former classist/homophobic beliefs, all during a whirlwind trip across the US with a motley pair of traveli
    Julia Kardon
    Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Pival Sengupta has never left Kolkata when she books a trip to America with an Indian travel company, but nothing in this road trip novel is exactly what it seems. Starting with the trip, which has a Bangladeshi, not Indian guide, and a female chaperone who is a young American actress. But also Pival, who is not on the trip to see America, but is hoping to find her son, who might be dead and whom the family cut off after he came out as gay. This novel has so much empathy for all of its character ...more
    Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2018-reads
    The synopsis of this novel immediately pulled me in. It took me a while to finish, and at times I found my thoughts wandering, but I absolutely loved reading it. America for Beginners follows the lives of three diverse strangers who find themselves bound together. Pival is a recent widow who plans to visit the US with an Indian tour company. She is not just hoping to see the sights, but also discover the whereabouts of her estranged son. Satya is hired as her tour guide. He comes from Bangladesh ...more
    Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveways
    Stirring and touching, “America for Beginners” which I won through Goodreads Giveaways begins when recently widowed Pival Sengupta a Bengali woman who has never travelled outside her home in Kolkata takes a cross-country tour from New York City to California with her guide Satya Roy and female chaperone Rebecca Eliot. On a trip where she’s determined to find out whether her beloved son Rahi who was ostracized by his father after declaring he was gay is alive or dead, and to end her life, Pival u ...more
    Vivek Tejuja
    Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Now, I have read a lot of books about immigrants and their lifestyles and what happens when you move countries or come to America, as they say. But this is not a story of an immigrant. In fact, it is just a story of a mother who has to come to terms with her son’s sexual preference and lifestyle, after his death. This struck a chord. It hit home and stayed there for a while. I was constantly thinking of my mother and what was she going through when I came out to her and could relate her thoughts ...more
    Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    What an appealing book. Three unique and sympathetic characters take a trip across America with multicultural confusions and prejudices that are slowly overcome by compassion and friendship. A pleasure to read.
    Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    3.5 stars, I recommend this one for sure!
    Pamela Detlor
    Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    America for Beginners is, quite simply, the most beautiful work of fiction I have read in years.
    In a story rich with character and charm, Leah Franqui, has more than delivered in this debut work.

    While there are numerous characters who’s stories weave life into this story, the focus falls on five lives, stemming from vastly different worlds, and each is somewhat lost; until their lives intersect. Each one having something to teach and much to learn.

    For most of the story we travel across America
    Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Amazing book - I didn't want to put it down! This book demonstrates the cultural differences between countries (in this case India and the USA) and how accepting that every individual has their own views. Pival, an Indian widow, sets out on a trip to the USA to find the truth of her son, Rahi/Bhim, who had left years before for the States and who was cut off from his family for coming out to his father. At the same time, Rebecca, an American who is hired to be a companion for Pival, is classhing ...more
    Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    There is nothing more exciting than reading a debut novel and falling in love with the story and characters. That just happened for me with Leah Franqui's America For Beginners.

    We begin with Mrs. Pival Sengupta, a recent Bangladeshi widow, planning a trip to America. We learn that Pival had an unhappy marriage to a man who verballly abused her, and banished their only son Rahi for a reason we come to learn later. Pival is "going to America to find her son or his lover. And to kill herself."

    This is a feel-good, totally heart-warming, smiling inducing read and I gobbled it all up!

    In America for Beginners we meet Pival Sengupta who is from India. She recently lost her husband. She decided to do something that is totally outside of her comfort zone- that is, book a trip to the USA to do a cross-country tour. Pival hopes to find out the truth about her son, Rahi who was banished from her home after her husband Ram, found out he was gay.

    Pival books her cross-country tour through a to
    This is, quite possibly, the best book I have read this year. It is about the many forms of loneliness. It is about things which hurt. It is about forgiving people. It is about being a stranger in a strange land, and being a stranger in a familiar land, and what to do when you are both at once. It is about characters who ask questions which hurt.
    Pival is asking: Who am I when I am without the context of my family and my home?
    Rachel is asking: Who am I if I am not what I have always dreamed of b
    Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    America for Beginners started slow, but I warmed up to it in the second half. The core concept of the story is a fun and compelling one — three strangers, each quite different from each other, end up taking a cross-country trip together under unique circumstances. Each progatonists felt somewhat predictable but were generally strong and likeable.

    A few things kept this book from being better rated for me, the primary being that I kept wishing the author would go a bit deeper. I felt like the wor
    Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    People kept telling me how much they loved, loved, loved this novel. And I completely understand why because I also loved, loved, loved this novel.

    It shifts perspectives, but in such a way that I was never disappointed one chapter was ending and another was beginning because I was deeply invested in every single story.

    Each character was so well-developed and lovable and flawed. I'm always a sucker for novels that explore America geographically and emotionally.

    It's a feel-good novel, but it hits
    Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: goodreads-win
    Goodreads Advance Reader's Edition

    A widow travels to America to find closure after her husband dies. She comes to America to find her son who died months before. She hires a tour guide and a companion to buy time as a ruse.

    It is more than a journey as it weaves the interactions of different cultures and even what we perceive as the same cultures has their own biases and beliefs
    Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
    "I don't want to talk about my father," Bhim said, gently, to diffuse the sting. Jake thought for a moment. "What about your mother then?" Bhim smiles, a smile Jake had never seen before. It was a gentle spreading of his lips, soft and smooth. His face suffused with light, like he was thinking of something wonderful. "My mother is the reason that I love you," Bhim said simply. "She is the reason that I know what love is."

    My heart, ya'll. I loved this tender, beautiful book so much. America for B
    Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: william-morrow
    If you enjoyed Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A PLACE FOR US, I highly recommend AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS.

    Three misfits set out on a journey across America, a journey of evolution, and are changed forever.

    Pival Sengupta, a newly widowed Indian woman, has booked a trip to America. Her servants are outraged! A woman just does not do this alone. But Pival is not going to see the sights of America. Instead, she is hoping to find her son whom her husband has told her is dead. After moving to America, Rahi revea
    Anne Slater
    Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: finished
    THis book -- will make a fabulous movie if great care is taken!!!

    I was lucky: nothing got in the way of my reading this book yesterday. I'd begun it about three times at bedtime, and knew that was not going to do the trick. So at about 10am I started again, was hooked pretty quickly, and Just Kept Going.

    There are three and a half main characters: recently widowed Pival; not-too-successful actress Rebecca; rags-to-second hand Satya the Bagladeshi tourist guide (to the USA); and the half-major cha
    Neelam Babul
    Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    An extraordinary story about a recently widowed woman, Pival Sengupta who was shadowed by the decisions of her husband forcing her to lose herself bit by bit.

    After his death she decides to travel to America not letting anyone know that the real intent is to trace her son Rahi who was estranged from her after an argument.

    During her tour we meet other characters like Satya, Rebecca, Ronnie and Jack who all have their distinct stories and challenges.

    The story is an intriguing combination of self
    Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I’m in such a swoon over this wonderful book! I think there will be a book hangover for awhile. And this is her first book and I can’t wait for another. I hope she’s busy writing. Such a great story and the CHARACTERS! Love, love, all of them. The writing is so lovely, the dialogue is real and sad and funny. 5 big stars all the way through it.
    Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I want everyone to read this tale of a widow who travels across the U.S. to find out the truth about what happened to her estranged son.
    « previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

    Readers also enjoyed

    • An Ocean of Minutes
    • What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 2
    • The Abundance
    • The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
    • The Full Moon Bride
    • Your Native Land, Your Life
    • The Foreigner
    • And Laughter Fell from the Sky
    • It Takes Two: Our Story
    • Island's End
    • The Family Tabor
    • The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies
    • The Shortest Way Home
    • Out With the Tide
    • Good for Nothing
    • My Granny Went to Market: A Round-The-World Counting Rhyme
    • Trick Play
    • If You Leave Me
    See similar books…
    “My mother is the reason that I love you,' Bhim said simply. 'She is the reason I know what love is.” 3 likes
    “He knew what it was to wish you were something different even when it was the thing that made you yourself.” 2 likes
    More quotes…