Lucky Boy: A Timely and Timeless Story

With love, family, and identity at its core, Lucky Boy is timeless. It’s about yearning for something that seems out of reach, and achieving that something only to have it snatched away. These relatable themes drive the parallel, yet conflicting, lives of the two protagonists. What makes this story as timely as it is timeless is its acute treatment of identity, particularly a modern American identity.

Soli is a dreamer. Growing up in a forgotten town in Mexico, she dreams of the promise of California, where her cousin is successfully building a new life for herself and her sons. During Soli’s escape across the border, she finds herself in a seemingly impossible situation: not only is she illegal, but she has become pregnant. She is welcomed to the United States, to Berkley, California, with a smack in the face from her cousin, a chastisement for her carelessness.

Kavya wears black to the weddings of childhood friends. (Technically, a single wedding of just one childhood friend, but the image is telling.) Her life in Berkley, California is almost too good to be true: she is a chef at a trendy pizza place where she can bike to work, alongside her husband who works in the tech world. But what Kavya wants more than anything is a child. We meet her, struggling to become pregnant, with a traditional Indian mother breathing down her neck, reminding her that at no cost may she consider adoption.

At first glance, the stories of Soli and Kavya couldn’t seem more different, but Shanthi Sekaran‘s genius shines through in making them seem nearly interchangeable. First, through their shared motives: their desires for lives they don’t seem destined to lead. They are also both intrinsically American stories (and timely stories, refreshing given the current atmosphere surrounding immigration and multiculturalism). Lastly, they are connected through one beloved, lucky boy.

But to think of the title of this book as its main subject is to overshadow the remarkable accomplishment Sekaran has managed in bringing Soli and Kavya to life. The tragic beauty of Lucky Boy reveals itself when along the way, you realize how much you have come to cherish both women, and that a happy ending for one means devastation for the other. The range of feelings is only amplified when listening to two distinct narrators voice these wonderfully complex women, with their struggles and strengths, their clever humor, and, most of all, their resilience.

Listen to an excerpt from Lucky Boy, read by Soneela Nankani and Roxana Ortega: LUCKY BOY