Read Remark book review - Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Book Review: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Published January 2017
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Lucky Boy presents two vastly different women with one thing in common.

Soli: an illegal immigrant from Mexico, searching for a better life. In a twist of bad (or fatefully right) timing, she finds herself pregnant just as she is smuggled into the US.

Kavya: blissfully married, financially stable, works as a head chef, and fulfilled in every way but one. While most of her life is seemingly perfect, she badly wants a baby and can’t get pregnant.

Both women are hopeful, working towards creating good lives. As the story progresses, so do their journeys. Soli’s harrowing trip into the US, with love found, lost, then stripped. Kavya’s grief after a miscarriage. Each story contains a universe of struggle, emotion held in tenuous check, and yearning.

At the center is one lucky boy, Ignacio. When Soli is detained in a holding center for illegal immigrants, she’s separated from her young son, Ignacio. Kavya and her husband become foster parents for Iggy, going through the awkward bonding and division of labor rituals that all new parents must work through, then settling into life as a happy family.

Soli wants him back. Kavya wants to keep him. Who wins?

Multiple themes and injustices are explored in Lucky Boy:

  • Immigration laws
  • Immigration holding centers
  • Parental rights
  • Foster parenting
  • Correctional facilities
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • Infertility
  • Work-life balance
  • Rape
  • First love
  • Objectification of women
  • Objectification of immigrants
  • Economic inequality
  • Eugenics

For books with similar themes, read The Leavers by Lisa Ko (immigration and parents separated from their children) and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (parental rights). While themes abound, they somehow flow seamlessly through the story.

But still, at the center of the story is the boy, Ignacio. This beacon of innocence and love, subject to the whims of the world around him. Unlucky because he’s pulled in two different directions, but lucky because at each turn is love.

Lucky Boy is heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. As a reader, it’s easy to want both sides to win. A satisfying ending on either side is tinged with sorrow and ache.