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America for Beginners


A poignant debut that explores unlikely friendships forged in unusual ...
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Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

Created: 07/26/19

Replies: 28

Posted Jul. 26, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2732

Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
LauraW

Join Date: 07/29/19

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

HI everyone,

I loved the premise of America for Beginners more than the execution. I did rate it a solid 3 out of 5 on Goodreads. I sometimes enjoy books with multiple narrators, but in this case, I had hoped the story would primarily be about Pival and her interior journey while traveling. The book did include that, of course, but I found that everyone having a nearly equal voice, with such detailed back stories, to be distracting. Overall, it was an intriguing premise that delivered pretty well on its promise. I do enjoy seeing the US from various points of view.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 145

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The three characters on the cross-country trip together each give us a backstory while they get to know each other. They all have interesting histories; they reveal a little about themselves as they travel. Franqui has done a good job of giving bits of information and yet holding back with other history until it is time to reveal it. I see in another comment a reader found this premise to be distracting. I quite like seeing the story from the three perspectives. It becomes more complete.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 406

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

Initially, I found it difficult to get into the story, but once I had it narrowed down to the main characters, I found the story flowed. I enjoyed reading about the three characters making their way across the country, but felt there was just too much background information on minor characters like the trip organizer and his wife, although it did give us some perspective into the prejudices that exist among other nationalities.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 304

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed the characters, the perspectives on America, the further insight into Indian, Pakistani, Bengali vs. Bangladeshi cultures, and the serious issues Franqui addressed. I’ve enjoyed many novels with multiple viewpoints, so that didn’t bother me per se, but in this one, I felt that it made for some “drag” in narrative momentum at the start. At times, too, the light comedy felt at odds with the various genuine emotional struggles going on. This was an ambitious story that largely succeeded: I’d rate it a 4.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianeh

Join Date: 08/01/16

Posts: 70

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed the book and found the story heartwarming. At first, as others have said, I was frustrated by the story being told from differing points of view but, as I read I found myself warming to each of the characters because of their insights.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teacher reader

Join Date: 02/14/18

Posts: 47

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

Laura put it well: I liked the premise more than the execution. Sometimes I asked myself: "whose story are we telling?" I feel like the author's underlying purpose for writing was to show Pavil gaining an understanding of homosexuality in America. The narrative did drag while she was pounding that home.

I did find the ending very satisfying and surprisingly believeable.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jennluna

Join Date: 03/12/19

Posts: 6

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I really enjoyed reading this book. The different viewpoints did not bother me, I found each character had substance. I loved how each of the three main characters had a different way of looking at America throughout the trip. I also liked how each of their relationships grew as the trip progressed. Not only did they learn about each other, but also a little about themselves and how they relate to others. I liked the flow of the story as well.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 134

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed reading America for Beginners, the different points of view on the United States and what was important to people from India. I thought it took to long to get the 3 travelers together. I enjoyed their journey the best.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
josephinej

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 84

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I really enjoyed it. I liked the differing perspectives of the narrators, and their reactions to the places they visited, and the food they ate. It was also eye-opening to read about the clash of Indian vs Bangladesh, on a personal, non-political level.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
christinep

Join Date: 07/16/13

Posts: 45

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I loved the multiple points of views that the book was written in. I loved that each character had an emotional journey as well as the physical journey across the US. The author gave the characters hope in the end without giving them a "perfect" ending. I could imagine they had more growth and discovery to come. I loved that the group visited the Glass Museum in Corning, a place I would love to visit some day. The other places not so much. They seemed part of what people normally see when they come to the US. Overall I'd give the book 4 stars and definitely recommend it to my book club. I think this book would be great for discussion. Lots of topics to cover.


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 125

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I really liked America for beginners. I think it was a unique story and had enough plot twists tonkeep me interested.. I liked all of the characters, and I learned something about another culture when I was reading.. it hat is always a plus for me. I thought the story of Pival and Bhim was so sad .. it really tugged at my heart strings and made me think of my own son and how that would feel ..


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolt

Join Date: 03/25/17

Posts: 127

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I found America for Beginners fairly difficult to "get into," but once I was in and sorted out who was who I really enjoyed seeing the characters change and grow.


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
garyr

Join Date: 10/23/12

Posts: 31

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

It was an enjoyable read, the different points of view was what made me think about how people view our country and lifestyles.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 314

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

This book appealed to me because 1) ROAD TRIP and 2) I love reading about places and cultures that I do not know well or have an understanding of. I did make the mistake of reading a couple of reviews written by people from Bangladesh/Bengal who were very critical of the portrayal of several characters. So I think I was thinking about this a lot as I read.

I was expecting a story more about Pavil, as some others commented. It seems more and more books are being written in alternating chapters, so I was used to that style. I did find in this case it distracted a bit from what I was hoping the book to be more about- -especially when I did not necessarily like some of the characters who had their own chapters. i did like the sections written from Jake's point of view and Satya's. both added to the story for me.

And I found it very annoying that wherever these people went they ONLY ate at Indian restaurants. One of the best parts of any road trip, in my opinion, is sampling the food from different regions.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2732

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

acstrine -- there's no doubt that Pival, Satya and Rebecca would entirely agree with you about eating in different restaurants, and they did manage to break free of Ronnie's plans occasionally -- the Thai meal in the hotel room that Pival and Rebecca enjoyed; the meal at Rebecca's parent's house; and the food after Satya and Rebecca watched the play for example.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 314

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

YES! davinamw, these times made me feel so happy (and hungry) I was definitely invested in what they were eating more than I should have been. haha I understand booking a tour was more practical for Pavil for numerous reasons, but I try to avoid them when I travel. Being told where to eat is one of the reasons!

I think breaking with Ronnie's plans were important moments in the book. It symbolized taking back control.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 314

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I want to add that I loved the way the author showed us that even after we have a sadness, a heartbreak, a betrayal, or a loss, we also have the power to pick ourselves up again and start over. Pavil lost her relationship with her precious son, but she opened herself up to a relationship with Jake, gaining so much in the process. Her two companions also had a "reawakening" of their own that inspired them to do something different with their lives. I found this hopeful.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sharonj

Join Date: 01/26/17

Posts: 23

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed most of all the characters and how the author developed them weaving in cultural and class differences. Their travels were a vehicle for getting to know each other ultimately leading them to LA where Pival finally got to have some peace with her son's story. The characters friendships and feelings they shared seemed true felt and sincere. It was an uplifting fun story of people with very different backgrounds sharing themselves in respectful ways....we need more of this in todays world.


Posted Aug. 05, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RRO

Join Date: 07/18/11

Posts: 28

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

Unlike other responders, I enjoyed the story much more than the premise. I actually went into it expecting to think it was just 'ok', but I really enjoyed it the more I got into it. I liked seeing the interactions of the people in the book and how their relationships evolved as time went on and they had experiences together.


Posted Aug. 05, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 98

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I was delighted with the book. It was just lighthearted enough to be enjoyable and still pack a message of hope and inclusiveness. The characters grew on me the more I read. Even the obsequiousness of Satya became endearing rather than annoying.


Posted Aug. 07, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
veronica

Join Date: 10/17/12

Posts: 9

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I thought it was a curious read. I loved the title. I found all the characters to have such different personalities so going across country with them made it more adventurous for me as a reader. I found a bit of humor and sadness both. Some wonderful friendships at the end. Lots of growing up for all the characters. I enjoyed the story.


Posted Aug. 08, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynne z

Join Date: 01/06/18

Posts: 21

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I thought the author's choice of the three characters was fascinating. Each one experienced "America" as a beginner for completely different reasons. Satya, Pival, and Rebecca changed because of their experiences together, but didn't transform. At the end of the book, each one still had challenges to face. I credit the author that everything wasn't "tidied up". I've thought about this book a lot over the past month and wondered what happened to each of the main characters. I've had to remind myself that this was a novel.


Posted Aug. 08, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 353

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed the book. Like many of the other readers, it took some time to adjust to the writing style. It was interesting to see America from the perspective of people from a different culture. It was also interesting to read about some of their destinations.


Posted Aug. 08, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janicea

Join Date: 04/20/17

Posts: 30

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed the book. The storyline was fresh and current. The characters were interesting, and from my interactions with people from countries outside the U.S., reflected viewpoints and ideas that my family, friends, and students have about the United States. The author showed that while the three main characters were very different, they also were very similar. I think other book clubs would have interesting discussions, especially if the members are from diverse backgrounds.


Posted Aug. 08, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kateg

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 29

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I enjoyed the book, although I felt that some serious topics were presented in a too lighthearted manner. This was a road novel, with some characters which were a little too stereotypical. It started as one thing and finished as another. Initially, I gave it 4 stars and now re-rated it to 3 after reading other comments. I am also a pretty serious person, so I may be too picky about the overall tone. And I simply could not understand why they had to eat mediocre Indian food most nights as Ronni was not there with them. I think it points to an overall inability for the three travelers to be honest with each other.


Posted Aug. 09, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Liz K

Join Date: 08/09/19

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were distinctive, with different backgrounds and ways of life -- I loved the diversity of the characters and that the author was able to show us not just their differences but their shared hopes, dreams, and humanity. I liked the humor that ran throughout the book, and I felt there was a lot of insight into America and how it is perceived by those who come here from other countries. Also, the changing geography, and the impressions different cities and areas made on the characters, was also intriguing. I'd recommend this book to others.


Posted Aug. 18, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliaa

Join Date: 12/03/11

Posts: 238

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

I'm admitting that I am not reading over all the other posts on this topic. I enjoyed the book, cared about the characters, and thought the evolution of Pival from submissive wife to self-assertive widow who became her own person late in life was the best aspect of the novel.


Posted Aug. 25, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teachlz

Join Date: 07/28/16

Posts: 43

RE: Overall, what do you think of America for Beginners?

Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "America for Beginners" by Leah Franqui, William Morrow, 2019

Leah Franqui, Author of "America for Beginners" has written an intriguing, captivating, entertaining, compassionate, witty, and emotional novel. The Genres for this story are Fiction, Women's Fiction, and Multi-Cultural Interest. The story takes place in India and different areas in the United States. The timeline for this story is in the present and goes to the past when it pertains to the characters and events in the story.  The colorful characters are described as complex, complicated, confused and flawed.

When Pavil's husband dies, she is determined to leave India and find out if her estranged son Rahi is alive. Just prior to her husband's death, he had told her that someone called and said that Rahi had died.  That was before Rahi was banned from the family after he told his parents he was gay.

Using a tour company that supposedly upper-class Indians use, Pavil finds herself with two members of the company. Satya is a young man from Bangladesh, and Rebecca, a young Jewish actress. Of course, Pavil is not supposed to know where her tour guides come from.  As they tour the different areas in the United States, the three are indirectly bonded in their search for different things.

I appreciate that the author discusses topics such as prejudice, emotional instability and depression, dysfunctional families, and poverty vs. wealth. The author also mentions compassion, the importance of emotional support, family, friends, love, and hope. I would recommend this intriguing novel.


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