Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran is a thought provoking new novel that touches on illegal immigration, class, fertility and motherhood.
Soli, at 18 years old leaves her small town in Mexico in hopes for a better life across the border. Her harrowing travels find her in a vibrant California city working as a housecleaner and unexpectedly pregnant. Soon after, her son is born, she establishes herself as a nanny to a little girl and she becomes comfortable in her new role as a young mother to her son, Ignacio. Soli’s luck takes a downhill turn and she gets into some trouble that leads her to jail, found to be undocumented and soon to be deported. Ignacio is taken from her and placed in the foster care system.
In a nearby neighborhood a young married Indian couple, Kavya and Rishi, desperately want a baby but cannot seem to conceive. After the long road of fertility treatments, they agree to pursue other parenting options and ultimately feel connected to and take into their home a foster child.
Ignacio is the Lucky Boy, a legal citizen born in the USA; and these two desperate women, his birthmother and his foster mother fight for their child.
This book tackled familiar issues for me like fertility challenges and the maternal connection with a child. I could relate to the Mexican mom who felt such a strong connection to her son and the Indian mom who desperately wanted to have a baby… I rooted for them both to end up with their boy.
The topic of immigration was brought to the forefront of my mind and my feelings about it have changed slightly after completing the book.
For me it was always imperative that the US laws keep families together, not break them apart by sending undocumented citizens, who already live here in the states and have created a life for themselves, out of this country. But I was starting to accept the idea of deporting illegal aliens who were incarcerated and caught up in our legal system. I think I was imagining scary criminals – terrorists, murderers and drug dealers and was thinking we shouldn’t clog up our jails with these horrible people. After reading about Soli, a lower class, young Mexican girl trying to make a better life for herself, a hard worker who didn’t speak English well enough to communicate and was taken advantage of by the jail employees and legal system, it brought to light the idea that there surely are nonviolent, productive people, young, misguided, and lower class women and men that could easily get caught up in our jails and legal system, and deporting them could destroy their families. Everyone has their own individual story and we owe it to each person to look at their situation separately.
I love a book that gives me something to think about and Lucky Boy did just that.