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READERS GUIDE

Discussion Guide

1. The narrative alternates between Soli and Kavya. Did you relate to one woman more than the other? If so, why?

2. Soli travels to America riding on La Bestia, while Kavya’s family arrived by more traditional means. How does this novel portray privileged versus unprivileged immigration? Do you feel differently about immigration after reading the book?

3. Kavya would be the first to admit she did not live the life her parents pictured for her. How do the expectations of her parents shape her character? Does Kavya’s love for Iggy change her understanding of heritage? Does it change her husband’s and parents’ understanding of heritage?

4. Is Silvia a good role model for Soli? Why or why not? Is Silvia’s one big lie forgivable?

5. Discuss how the novel explores motherhood. What are some key differences between the way Soli thinks of motherhood and the way Kavya does? In what ways is motherhood the same for both women?

6. When Rishi is asked if he wants a child, he thinks “Children had seemed like a project planted permanently in the future. A certainty about which he never thought he’d be asked. Had anyone asked his own father if he’d wanted a baby?” (p. 54). How does the novel portray fatherhood? Is it different from motherhood? Do you think men plan for children differently than women do?

7. Discuss how Lucky Boy addresses the classic idea of the American dream. Is the American dream still attainable? Has it changed?

8. After giving birth to Nacho, Soli thinks “I’m a mother in Berkeley, but I’m no Berkeley mother” (p. 188). What do you think she means.
 
9. As Soli plans to become a housekeeper in California, she remembers her father telling her that “servitude lives in the heart” (p. 63). How does the novel portray class stratification? Does race play a role in these class divides?

10. From Santa Clara Popocalco to Berkeley, the Weebies campus, and Silicon Valley, the novel paints a vivid portrait of the West. How does this setting shape the novel? Would the story be different if it was set elsewhere in America?

11. Were you shocked by how Soli was treated in immigrant detention? Why or why not?

12. Kavya reasons with herself: “Why did people love children who were born to other people? For the same reason they lived in Berkeley, knowing the Big One was coming: because it was a beautiful place to be, and because there was no way to fathom the length or quality of life left to anyone, and because there was no point running from earthquakes into tornadoes, blizzards, terrorist attacks. Because destruction waited around every corner, and turning one corner would only lead to another” (p. 350). Do you agree with Kavya’s decision to fight to keep Iggy? Why or why not? Have you ever made a decision you knew might hurt down the line? What about a decision you knew others might not understand?

13. How did you feel about the ending? Were you surprised? Do you think Soli should have made a different choice? 

 
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