‘Sometimes you have to go a long way to find what you’re looking for. And sometimes a little beginner’s luck is all you need…’
American For Beginners is the first novel by Leah Franqui. It follows the narrative of three very different characters, who all leading extremely different sets of lives, whilst they take a tour across America.
There’s Pival Sengupta who is recently widowed and is about to embark upon a life-changing journey across the world to America. In search of her long-estranged son. And some answers. Satya, is her Bangladeshi (but pretending to be Bengali) tour guide that has only been in America for less than one year. And how has never actually left the boroughs of New York which he calls home. And finally aspiring actress Rebecca, who’s looking to break out of the rut that she’s in.
Franqui has done a great job at crafting the characters for her novel. They challenge each other throughout, whilst also creating discussion and debate about the many themes that become apparent in the novel. At times you may disagree with Pival’s old-fashioned views on love and relationships, or you may find yourself prickling at Satya’s attitude to Rebecca and likewise Rebecca’s to Satya (and her parents). But from learning more about these characters, you learn more about the societies that they come from and with this you learn and grow with the characters.
We learn a lot about each of these characters impressions and connections with each of the destinations on their American tour. From New York City and Washington to New Orleans and Las Vegas. But for the travel lover in me, I would have loved to have learnt more about each city that the characters had stopped in during their tour. I’ve only been to America the one time, so like the characters was learning about each place as the story developed. But I would have liked to have taken more from the real life destinations and attractions mentioned in the book. To inform my next trip and to almost add to the America For Beginners message that comes from the book.
It’s a great tale of love, forgiveness and acceptance. Which through Pival, Satya and Rebecca’s stories, shows that with a little bit of travel and a whole lot of open-mindedness, you can change your life and your views for the better. It’s a great book, which I couldn’t put down, and unlike some books I’ve read in the past, the ending is satisfying. You feel like the characters stories have been told and come to a natural conclusion. There are no un-answered questions. No loose ends. Just three lives simply changed by their trip across America.
You can purchase a copy of America For Beginners from Waterstones here.
Until next time.
*NB* My copy of America For Beginners was gifted to me by Felicity Denham (Harper Collins PR Team) for the purpose of this post, but all views are my own. The links to the book (which I would have put in anyways) are using a Waterstones Affiliate link, but this does not cost you any extra and may earn me a little extra money (to put towards more books!)