Friday, February 02, 2018

Lucky Boy

It is no surprise that Shanthi Sekaron's novel is about a boy. Ignacio El Viento Castro Valdez is indeed a lucky boy, because he is deeply loved. His birth mother is Solimar, a young woman who discovered her pregnancy after she traveled--illegally--across the border into the U.S. from Mexico. Her trip was not without its horrors, those dangers and traumas that unaccompanied young women are often forced to face. But she makes a life for herself and her son, living with her cousin Silvia and serving as a housekeeper and nanny to a well-to-do family in Berkeley, CA. She fiercely loves her baby, whom she calls Nacho, and he accompanies her everywhere.

Several blocks away from the street where Soli works, Rishi and Kavya, a young couple whose both sets of parents emigrated from India, struggle to have a child of their own. Having tried everything they can emotionally and financially afford, to no avail, they decide to turn to adoption. They enroll in foster parent training, and then are given the opportunity to foster a child, which could perhaps lead to adoption.

Even though readers can easily anticipate the juncture at which Soli's and Kavya's paths will cross, it is still painful and heart-breaking to see it happen. A simple traffic stop turns Soli's life upside down, as she is sentenced to a detention center and prepared for deportation. Nacho, whom Kavya and Rishi come to call Iggy, meets a second Mama who loves him nearly as deeply as Soli does.

This is a wonderful story that explores complicated issues of love and belonging in the framework of the current state of immigration policies in the U.S. Highly recommended!

--review by Kelly Currie

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