cover image Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

Shanthi Sekaran. Putnam, $27 (480p) ISBN 978-1-101-98224-2

Sekaran’s second novel (after The Prayer Room) humanizes the issue of illegal immigration. Born in a small, impoverished village in Mexico, teenage Soli makes the dangerous journey across the border to the U.S. and ends up in Berkeley, Calif., living with her cousin, Silvia, and working as housekeeper to the well-to-do Cassidy family. In a parallel story, Kavya Reddy and her techie husband, Rishi, frustrated at their inability to get pregnant, decide to adopt. Having become pregnant en route to the U.S., Soli gives birth to a little boy she nicknames Nacho. Arrested, she is sent to immigrant detention and Nacho is placed in foster care, where he eventually comes to the attention of Kavya and Rishi, who attempt to adopt the boy. But they find there is a steep learning curve in becoming instant parents. From her cell in Washington State, Soli fights the Reddys for custody of her son. With the odds stacked against her, she is left with no choice but to make a desperate bid for freedom for herself and her son. Sekaran has made sure to tell a story without obvious villains (except for government functionaries). Despite the unsurprising and drawn-out ending, Soli and Kavya are both given sympathetic treatment thanks to the textured rendering of their lives, and readers will be emotionally invested in Nacho’s fate. [em]Agent: Lindsay Edgecombe, Levine, Greenburg, Rostan Agency. (Jan.) [/em]