Book Review: Lucky Boy


Lucky Boy:  A Novel, by Shanthi Sekaran

This is possibly the worst novel I have read in some time.  There are bad books that are bad because they are incoherent and lack attention to structure, and there are bad books who are bad because they call evil good, and this book is clearly in the latter camp.  From a technical perspective, this novel is well-polished and written by someone who is clearly competent at stringing words together into sentences and creating chapters and structuring a novel, even if it is a bit slow paced in building up to its bathetic climax.  Where the book truly fails, and spectacularly fails, is in its framing.  The author spends so much time working on putting her ulterior motives [1] into the book that she forgets the need for the characters to be relatable and appealing.  To be sure, the Reddy couple is a bit clueless, but it is with the author’s framing of Soli Valdez and with those who support her as protesters that the book’s framing goes seriously off-kilter.  This book is only likely to be appealing to those who have drank the leftist cool-aid of our contemporary culture.  For everyone else, the result of reading this book is likely to be a call for building Trump’s wall as soon as possible, even for those of us that are not against legal immigration at all.

The book is structured as a multiple POV novel with a lot of chapters of uneven length focusing on the two mothers who both love one anchor baby named Ignacio.  The beginning of the novel is pretty interminable as the author goes over Indian cultural drama and the inability of the Reddy’s to have a child naturally or even through IVF while trying to paint Soli as a heroine for her brave one-woman invasion of the United States in search of a better life.  From there the novel only gets worse as it shows the middle class struggles of the Reddy’s and the drama involving their friends/coworkers/bosses and Soli’s life as a professional victim who attracts all kinds of men who want to exploit or abuse her in some fashion while trying to take care of her unborn and then born son.  Given that I did not find the book’s framing remotely just nor the heroines of the book (Soli in particular) sympathetic, this book was a real slog to get through.  Its ending was rather anticlimactic as well, with some phony moral point to claim that it is wrong to raise someone else’s child as a foster parent when their mother has no right to be in the country in the first place and no civil rights accordingly and the mother ending up not far from where she began.

The only reason I finished this book was because it was part of the CASA book club in our tri-county region, and make no mistake that my views of this novel are particularly harsh.  The novel gives a reasonably accurate look at the foster care system and the uncertainties of being a foster parent of children whose birth parents are psychopaths.  Unfortunately, when a novel depends on being sympathetic to said psychopaths, it has profoundly failed at its purpose of promoting negative social change through terrible literature.   This book made me wonder why that wall isn’t built now and why the author hasn’t been stuck on the other side of it, and why some parts of California haven’t been put under martial law so some rabid dogs can be put down.  This was probably not the intended result that the author was aiming for, but given that the framing of the novel is so consistently wicked and the author’s perspective so malign, it is hard to imagine a lot of readers appreciating this volume unless they already buy into the author’s mindset in the first place.  This is the sort of book one burns to keep warm, or throws away as a waste of space, at best.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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3 Responses to Book Review: Lucky Boy

  1. Pingback: Book Review: A Passage To India | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Madisyn Wolff says:

    I feel that some of the points of the books were missed by you. The build up was a bit slow, but it established cultures that the reader may not have had any knowledge of before picking up the book. I don’t know where you get the idea is a psychopath at all. I didn’t like that the book suggested a foster parent is wrong in fostering someone else’s child, I’ll agree there. The book seems wicked but it tells the truth. The way women, people of color, and immigrants, both documented and not are treated in America is the same as what we read in this novel. I also think the way you say it makes you wish the wall between Mexico and America was already built and the author on the other side of it was hugely insensitive of you, and just far over the line of acceptability.

    • Your reply was not entirely coherent. For example, what do you mean by: “I don’t know where you get the idea is a psychopath at all.” If you’re referring to the psycho birth mother, her self-centered behavior suggests that she is only interested in what is best for herself and not everyone else, which is generally what is meant by that term. Your insights are not entirely incorrect. I do wish that the wall between Mexico and the USA was already built and that the author and others of her ilk were on the other side. And far from being unacceptable, to protect people from those who would wish to take advantage of them is a duty and responsibility of any good government.

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