Lucky Boy

Thoughts  by Shanthi Skaran, GP Putnam’s Sons 2017, 472 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Hmmmmm…. I guess that catchall “contemporary lit”
Type/Source: eBook / Borrowed from library, read on my Kindle
 Why I read this now: Available from the library

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB. Today is actually the decision day for this book. It is going against The End of Eddy which I listened to. I’m hurrying to post this before the judgment is announced.

He asked for her story, he wanted to know how she’d arrived on his shores, and what had happened to her on the journey. Soli, without papers and pregnant, and hanging by a thread to this happy, healthy place, considered telling the truth. With a sharp slap to her inner chismosa, she slowed down and shut her mouth.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Two sides of a story. One, a young illegal immigrant from Mexico who is ‘bio-mom’ of the lucky boy named Ignatio, and the other, a second-generation in America couple (heritage India) who want to adopt the lucky boy whom they call Iggy. Bio-mom Solimar is fierce in her love and dedication to her son and she is trying to survive and adjust to the promises of a life in the U.S. But then she is caught; she is undocumented. Kavya and Rishi have their own expectations of how their lives should be and when they can’t get pregnant, they move to adopt a baby, starting with fostering Ignatio who is now a ‘ward of the state’ while Soli languishes in ‘custody’. Worlds collide. Sort of.

WHAT’s GOOD: Well-researched scenarios and portrayals of true American stories and the immigration policies and systems in place – and are in flux and in the news even more now. Lucky Boy explores parental rights, wealth and poverty, immigration, the courts.

I highlighted a few wonderful sentences, but I never got swept up into any of it.

She’d never had to truly give up on herself before, having always had a trust fund of potential—untapped, hidden, wasted—to fall back on.

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t feel it. Something was off. I didn’t care for Kavya and her petty jealousies. It just didn’t carry the spark it needed.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This book is going to get skewered in the commentary today; I do feel that. I wish I could articulate the unsettling I feel about how the story was constructed and how the plot unfolded. I found it predictable, almost boring. “The U.S. Immigration Policy is bad.” The checks and balances of the systems for handling immigrants is in failure mode. Yep, I get it. How do we fix it?

I read (rēēd) the wonderful insightful pro and con thoughts on all these books and I nod my head, yes! I can see that, or Really?! no, I didn’t get that… but I can’t find those words of my own to reason through my thoughts and feelings. But I do so love the TOB. It’s been a wild ride so far (and I’m actually glad I haven’t found my darling.)

If you read everything – you’ll know why I post this quote: “She ran until the dogs in her head stopped barking. And then she stopped and turned and found that she was alone.

TOB:  I will chose The End of Eddy in this round. I listened to TEoE and I didn’t listen well. But it had a punch and a rawness that was evident as art. They are saying we are in Bizarro-World this year so it is possible that Lucky Boy might take it. But I don’t think so…

RATING: Three slices of apple pie.

Silvia picked up tamales and an apple pie and a liter of fancy-looking soda from the expensive supermarket, the one they never went to.

pierating

“Can you smell that apple pie?” Eva Cabral stood and cranked open her window. “They drive me crazy with that apple pie!” She had the spangle-toothed smile of a PTA president.

pierating

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17 thoughts on “Lucky Boy

  1. Now I need to go see what the judgement was and if they all agreed with you. I agree with Amy Brandon in that it does remind me of Little Fires Everywhere, but I suspect that was better.

  2. Little Fires didn’t even make the long list, but we know there isn’t exactly a scientific process to the TOB. I wasn’t a fan of Everything I’ve Never Told You, however. So I was glad to not “have” to read it. I will read her next book maybe and if I like it, go back.

    I wasn’t a fan of Lucky Boy either. Like you, I found it too obvious and issue-centric. But I would certainly try something else from the author. There were bits and pieces that were great, just didn’t like it as a whole.

    1. ME, TOO. I felt like she had a big outline of where the book was to go and all she had to do was narrative her note cards. But I can say I was really into the first third.

  3. I enjoyed this book more than you did (and more than End of Eddy), but I was very much in the mood for a book with a lot of story, even if the story didn’t always work. And I did care a lot what happened to the characters. I wasn’t particularly invested in it advancing in the TOB, though, because, as much as I enjoyed reading it, I could see its flaws.

    In comparison to Little Fires Everywhere, I thought the adoption angle was better developed and more complicated here because we got in the heads of both mothers, instead of hearing only from people adjacent to the situation. But I liked the two books about the same overall.

  4. I’ve heard a lot of back and forth reviews on this one, people seem to like it a lot or just feel like it’s missing something. Which is too bad, the premise sounds really interesting! I haven’t been following TOB this year, but I may pop over to see the thoughts on this one.

    1. Just not the strongest book in the field, for me. Today’s debate is fabulous (So Much Blue vs Pachinko. both books I read before the shortlist.)

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