Month: March 2018

Check It Out Blog

Book Discussion Questions: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Title: Lucky Boy
Author:  Shanthi Sekaran
Page Count: 472 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction, Multiple Perspectives
Tone: Sympathetic, Moving

Summary:
A wrenching emotional battle ensues between Soli, an undocumented Mexican single mother, and Kavya, an Indian-American chef who cannot have children, when Soli’s infant son is placed in Kavya’s care during an immigration detention.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2018 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. How would you describe Soli as a character? How would you describe Kavya? In what ways were they similar?

2. Did you relate to one woman more than the other? If so, why?

3. What was Kavya’s reasoning to keep Iggy? What was Soli’s reasoning to keep Iggy?
Who do you think Ignacio should have ended up with?

4. Do you agree with this statement? “This story, this fight for a boy—it wasn’t about the boy. It was about his mothers.”

5. Did Iggy adjust between the change in family okay?

6. Why did the author spend so much time developing the characters on their own before we get into the fight for Ignacio?

7. What makes a person privileged? How does this relate to Kavya and Soli’s stories?

8. What was Soli’s desire to move in the first place? Did anything surprise you about her journey?

9. What did you think of Soli’s employers, the Cassidy’s? Why did they have such a weird relationship with Soli?

10. Does Kavya’s love for Iggy change her understanding of heritage? Does it change her husband’s and parents’ understanding of heritage?

11. Is Silvia a good role model for Soli? Why or why not?

12. Is Silvia’s lie forgivable?

13. Was this an accurate portrayal of motherhood?

14. We explore a lot about Soli and Kavya as mothers. What about their own mothers? How do they act as mothers?

15. Between all of the characters, is there any version of motherhood not shared?

16. How did Rishi plan for Iggy? How did they bond?

17. Was there any symbolism with Rishi’s work with Weebie?

18. How did Kavya’s relationship with Preeti change?

19. What did you think about the scenes with the immigration detention center?

20. Does this story remind you of any stories from the news?

21. From the publisher: “Lucky Boy is an emotional journey that will leave you certain of the redemptive beauty of this world. There are no bad guys in this story, no obvious hero.” Do you agree with that?

22. Was Ignacio a lucky boy?

23. Was there anything that surprised you about this book?

24. What made these characters real rather than just symbols? Were there any characters that felt like just symbols?

25. Does the author make a moral claim/vote for what she believes is right?

26. Which character developed the most?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

NPR article, “Immigration and Infertility Bring Two Mothers Over One ‘Lucky Boy'”
Public Radio International article, “The Novel ‘Lucky Boy’ and a Timely Story of Immigration and Motherhood”
Q&A with author Shanti Sekaran
Discussion Guide from LitLovers
Video: author Shanthi Sekaran shares at UC Berkeley
Book review from New York Journal of Books

READALIKES:

A House for Happy Mothers book coverA House for Happy Mothers
by Amulya Malladi

Lawn Boy book coverLawn Boy
by Jonathan Evison

The Same Sky
by Amanda Eyre Ward

Road-Trip Audiobooks about Road Trips

road trip view photoSpring is here, and we can’t help but think of travel. Whether that travel takes the form of an actual vacation or is only a mental getaway between home and work, a great audiobook can make the experience all the more vivid. As long as you are on the move, why not choose one of these tales of road trip adventure to double the experience? Among true-life narratives and stories of imagination, many with companions both human and animal, we guarantee you’ll find a kindred spirit of exploration.

 

Driving with the Top Down book coverDriving with the Top Down
by Beth Harbison
In an attempt to rediscover joy in her life, Colleen Bradley takes an antiquing road trip down the East Coast with her old friend Bitty and teenager Tamara, where the three women learn about true friendship.
Assassination Vacation book coverAssassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell
In this highly unusual travelogue, a journalist explores the history of American presidential assassinations by visiting assassination sites, museums, prisons, monuments, and even a religious commune from the Florida Keys all the way to Alaska.
Carrying Albert Home book coverCarrying Albert Home
by Homer Hickam
The funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure undertaken to return the pet alligator given to them by the wife’s former paramour, dancer Buddy Ebsen.

 

Longest Road book coverThe Longest Road
by Philip Caputo
In a journey of over four months and seventeen thousand miles, the author and his wife haul an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska, interviewing Americans from all walks of life along the way.
Boomer's Bucket List book coverBoomer’s Bucket List
by Sue Pethick
When her cuddly canine companion Boomer is diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Jennifer Westbrook decides to take a leave of absence from her busy PR job—and take Boomer on the greatest road trip of his life.
Lost and Found book coverLost & Found
by Brooke Davis
A shared encounter between an abandoned seven-year-old, a widowed shut-in, and a nursing home escapee results in the three embarking on a road trip across Western Australia to find the child’s mother.

 

Turn in the Road book coverA Turn in the Road
by Debbie Macomber
Bethanne Hamlin, her daughter Annie, and her former mother-in-law Ruth go on a road trip across the country in an adventure that changes all of their lives as they each contemplate taking different paths in their romantic lives.
Heroes of the Frontier book coverHeroes of the Frontier
by Dave Eggers
Struggling through a painful separation, the loss of her dental practice and the senseless death of a young man, Josie embarks on an RV road trip to Alaska with her kids that is marked by both national wonders and the shadows of past regrets.
Loop Group book coverLoop Group
by Larry McMurtry
Best friends Maggie and Connie are getting past their prime, which is why they plan to have one last great adventure. Packing a .38 Special, they blaze their trail across the Southwest, bumping into one zany character after another.

 

Travels with Charley book coverTravels with Charley
by John Steinbeck
With his elderly French poodle, Charley, author John Steinbeck embarked on a quest to rediscover the America he’d been writing about for so many years, from the northermost tip of Maine to California’s Monterey Peninsula.
One Plus One book coverOne Plus One
by Jojo Moyes
A single mom, her math genius daughter, her eye-shadow-wearing stepson, a wealthy computer geek and a smelly dog all get into a car to drive to the Math Olympiad. What could go wrong? What could go right?
On the Road book coverOn the Road
by Jack Kerouac
A penniless writer named Sal Paradise becomes inspired to hitchhike across America. Joining up with fellow vagabonds who are in love with life and open to adventure, they explore jazz, sex, drugs, and mysticism on the fringes of society.

Donna C’s Pick: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Donna C. from Fiction/AV/Teen suggests Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Life leads you down strange and winding roads as you begin your adventures into adulthood. In Sourdough by Robin Sloan, Lois Clary is on just such a journey, open to the unknown as she ambles purposefully from the Midwest to San Francisco. Initially she heads to the Bay Area to take a job as a computer programmer at a startup company that makes robotic arms to perform delicate repetitive motions such as cracking eggs. Undeterred by a culture that forgoes food for semi-liquid nutrient supplement packets called “Slurry”, Lois embraces the high tech way of life. But when she finds herself craving a rich, flavorful meal that doesn’t come in a pouch, she begins a relationship with an ancient culture, an enigmatic duo of brothers and a bread recipe that takes on a life of its own.

 

 

For other offbeat adventures in the realm of culinary arts or the computer tech scene, try these…

Startup
by Doree Shafrir
Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea, but before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message helps his startup company go viral for all the wrong reasons.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
by Aimee Bender
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is notorious: a fearlessly opinionated partner , a revolutionary architect, a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears…
The Lemon Jell-O Syndrome
by Man Martin
Bone King has no physical impairment, but at times his brain and muscles simply can’t recall how to walk him through doors and is not sure why, until renowned neurologist Arthur Limongello offers a diagnosis as peculiar as the ailment…
mr. penumbra's 24-hour bookstore book coverMr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
After a few days on the job, Clay Jannon discovers that Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest.

Fiction: Irish Authors to Read for St. Paddy’s Day

Ireland has a history of cultivating great poets and authors – William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. Modern-day Irish authors successfully carry on this rich tradition. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are newer books from contemporary authors who hail from the Emerald Isle.

Anne Enright, The Green Road
A darkly glinting novel set mainly in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast.The children of Rosaleen Madigan grow up in the West of Ireland in a world that is about to change. Three of the children leave home for lives they could never have imagined – Dan, for the frenzy of New York under the shadow of AIDS; Emmet, for the backlands of Mali where he learns the fragility of love and order; and actress Hanna, for modern day Dublin and the trials of motherhood. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother Rosaleen decides to sell the family home. Her adult children visit for Christmas carrying with them the complications of their present lives and the old needs of childhood as they are brought face to face with their mother’s aging and the effects her decision will have on them all.

 

Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking
In the exuberant title novella, a retired judge reflects on his life’s work, unaware as he goes about his daily routines that this particular morning will be his last. In “Sh’khol,” a mother spending Christmas alone with her son confronts the unthinkable when he disappears while swimming off the coast near their home in Ireland. In “Treaty,” an elderly nun catches a snippet of a news report in which it is revealed that the man who once kidnapped and brutalized her is alive, masquerading as an agent of peace. And in “What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?” a writer constructs a story about a Marine in Afghanistan calling home on New Year’s Eve.

 

 

Emma Donoghue, The Wonder
An English nurse is brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

 

 

 

Colm Toibin, House of Names
“I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So begins Clytemnestra’s tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon.. Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal—his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child.

 

Lisa McInerney, The Glorious Heresies
When grandmother Maureen Phelan is surprised in her home by a stranger, she clubs the intruder with a Holy Stone. The consequences of this unplanned murder connect four misfits struggling against their meager circumstances. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father, Tony, whose feud with his next-door neighbor threatens to ruin his family. Georgie is a sex worker who half-heartedly joins a born-again movement to escape her profession and drug habit. And Jimmy Phelan, the most fearsome gangster in the city and Maureen’s estranged son, finds that his mother’s bizarre attempts at redemption threaten his entire organization.