STARRED REVIEW
January 2017

What makes a family?

By Shanthi Sekaran
Kavya and Rishi Reddy, successful Indian-American immigrants living in a charming Berkeley bungalow, have the sort of life that Checo and Soli are hoping for as they set out to cross the border from Mexico. Yet Checo and Soli, teenagers with little more than uncompromising determination and invincible spirit, have the one thing that Kavya and Rishi do not. Ignacio El Viento Castro Valdez, conceived somewhere in the deserts of Mexico, is the lucky boy that unites the two couples’ stories.
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Kavya and Rishi Reddy, successful Indian-American immigrants living in a charming Berkeley bungalow, have the sort of life that Checo and Soli are hoping for as they set out to cross the border from Mexico. Yet Checo and Soli, teenagers with little more than uncompromising determination and invincible spirit, have the one thing that Kavya and Rishi do not. Ignacio El Viento Castro Valdez, conceived somewhere in the deserts of Mexico, is the lucky boy that unites the two couples’ stories.  

Just when Soli thinks she might make it in America, she gets caught and put in immigration detention with a likely outcome of deportation back to Mexico. As a U.S. citizen born after Soli’s arrival, her 1-year-old son, Ignacio, enters the foster care system and is placed with Kavya and Rishi, who are unable to have a biological child. Like any good parents, the Reddys take on their new role wholeheartedly, forgetting that Ignacio is someone else’s child. 

At its core, Shanthi Sekaran’s compassionate second novel is a spectacular saga of motherhood and the choices we make to achieve it. Supporting the main cast are side characters who lend intriguing perspectives born of their own culture and belief systems: the Cassidys, who employ Soli; Uma, Kavya’s traditionally minded mother; and Silvia, the cousin who takes Soli in. 

Lucky Boy resonates, raising important questions about our society and our responsibility to those who seek the American dream, even as it forces you to ask, “What would I do?” This is a multidimensional story with lots of emotion, humor and love, and it will appeal to parents and non-parents alike. Like M.L. Stedman in The Light Between Oceans, Sekaran presents a complex moral dilemma that leaves readers incapable of choosing sides. Lucky Boy is a must-read.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

By Shanthi Sekaran
Putnam
ISBN 9781101982242

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