Book Review for AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS by Leah Franqui
AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS by Leah Franqui
William Morrow Paperbacks
☕ ☕ ☕ ☕
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A heartfelt, timely, and beautifully honest look at discovering who you are, testing what you have always believed, and creating friendships in unlikely places.
AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS is such a beautiful story. Getting to spend time with Franqui’s characters on their trip across America was profoundly affecting. Not only did it give me a glimpse at a culture I knew little about, but it reminded me of just how amazing my country is.
What is so amazing about this book is that the reader gets to experience America through the eyes of three completely different people. We go on this trip with a mother from India looking for answers, an immigrant working hard to achieve the American dream, and a young woman trying to be an actress. While reading, I not only was enchanted by the different points of view but also by the way the author gives us glimpses of the similarities in us all. The author gifts us these characters and their journey as a way to entertain and inform. Through all good fiction, we are shown a piece of what is right in front of us.
This is what diversity in books looks like. This tale tells the personal struggles, the cultural ideologies, and generational gaps in beliefs through the lives of men and women across the spectrum of humanity. It highlights the prejudice people face daily, the difficulties of relationships, and internal conflict one can face while pushing their limits. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS is a compassionate, sometimes humorous, and emotional look at what America is.
Reviewer Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.
Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkata to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.
Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pival’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week "working" vacation traveling across America be?
Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.
A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek.
About the Author: Leah Franqui is a graduate of Yale University and received an MFA at NYU-Tisch. She is a playwright and the recipient of the 2013 Goldberg Playwriting Award, and also wrote a web series for which she received the Alfred Sloan Foundation Screenwriting award (aftereverafterwebseries.com). A Puerto Rican-Jewish Philadelphia native, Franqui lives with her Kolkata-born husband in Mumbai. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS is her first novel.
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 30, 2019)
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