The Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

lucky boy

I really enjoyed listening to this book read by Soneeda Nankani and Roxana Ortega and often found myself sitting in my garage or a parking lot to hear more when I arrived at my destination.  The story line centers around two women who both love one little boy.  Solimar Valdez is an eighteen year old who flees her impoverished village in Mexico because there is no one left her age and there are no opportunities.  Along the way to America she meets a boy and becomes pregnant with Ignacio.  Her cousin helps her find employment when she arrives in America, and she begins a productive and comfortable life for herself and Ignacio in her new country.   Meanwhile, Kavya Reddy and her husband, Rishi, live in Berkley, CA and long to have a child, but their efforts have been unsuccessful.  Kavya and Rishi  begin considering adopting a child. Meanwhile, after her cousin runs a red light, Solimar and her cousin are arrested, and Ignacio is placed in foster care because his mother is imprisoned and facing deportation. Kavya and Rishi  begin fostering him and then decide to proceed with the adoption process.  The two families’ worlds connect when Solimar tries to get Ignacio back before being deported.  This book is beautifully and descriptively written with believable characters and real-life situations.  It takes an honest look at complex situations without pronouncing moral judgements.  This is another book that would be good for a book group discussion.

Spare Parts by Joshua Davis

spare parts

This book is the one my library, Carmel Clay Public Library, chose as one of their community reads books this year.  The theme for the year is STEM.  Of all the books we’ve done over the years, this one has touched me the most.  It is inspiring, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and educational.  The book tells the story of 4 undocumented Mexican teens who came together in a program at a high school in Phoenix, Arizona.  These four misfits were inspired by two science teachers to build a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and enter an underwater robotics competition, competing against the best college teams including MIT.  They had little money and used their ingenuity to build the robot with parts from Home Depot.  There were so many things to like about this book.  First we learn the back story of each of these boys and the struggles they had and the obstacles they encountered.  The two dedicated teachers that started the program were inspiring in their efforts to reach marginal students and a great model for other educators.  This group of boys had very different personalities with different gifts, and it was nice to see how they learned to work together and trust each other in their efforts.  Of course the underdogs from a high school team going up against the great college teams had me cheering for their success.  These boys were determined and hard-working, setting an example for their school.  They have now left a legacy and inspired and given hope to the students of that school who otherwise wouldn’t have had much hope.  The book also follows up on what has happened since the competition.  It is a very timely book with the immigration issues and hopefully eye-opening to others of the difficulties in solving that problem.  It is not an easy fix like our politicians try to portray and the book has inspired me to learn more about the issues.