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America for Beginners

by Leah Franqui

America for Beginners by Leah Franqui X
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2018, 320 pages
    Jul 2019, 320 pages


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There are currently 31 reader reviews for America for Beginners
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Melissa S. (Rowland, NC)

Coming Of Age At Any Age
"America For Beginners" by Leah Franqui is a smooth read. Franqui's characters are all dealing with their own set of heartache, expectations, and reality. Even though the main characters come from completely different walks of life, their stories are intertwined in a way that is both beautiful and flows effortlessly. This novel is an easy weekend read that will leave you wishing there were more. I found myself rooting for all the characters to not only find their peace, but hopefully with each other too. Franqui succeeds in introducing the reader to the Indian culture, although I think much of the references were lost on the average American reader. The anecdotal American scenes on their journey are quite humorous and surprisingly, add to the novel.

I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good read that easily captures and holds for a weekend. Since this novel does focus on adults (both youngish and older) coming of age through their journey, I would recommend it to adult readers more so than young adult. I feel the heartache is more palpable to someone who has lived life and experienced heartache that only comes from relationships with both positive and negative people over time. Pival proves that it's never too late to take back the control you may have given others.
Brenda S. (Winter Haven, FL)

An Unexpected Journey
The author, Lea Franqui, introduced the characters perfectly. No person is perfect and it is not always easy to understand why someone might think differently than we do. But, if we can just take a moment to listen, just listen, there is much to be gleaned from another's experiences.

Pavil's life in India may have seemed charmed, but the tortures she endured made her feel her life was not worth living. By meeting a young man and young woman and traveling the US to find her son's lover, she gained an appreciation of life...and the choices her son made.

This book will stay with me for a long time. It is certainly one worth sharing.
Susan L. (Alexandria, VA)

Journey Across America
Leah Franqui introduces characters who are wonderfully flawed and real. They felt more like people than characters. America for Beginners is a peek into how others see America and people from other countries within the context of their upbringing and cultural norms. It was both heartbreaking and amusing. I loved that the characters grew from the experience. There were many observations that took me by surprise, such as the widow's impression of Washington, DC. Others were not as surprising, but felt true for the characters. Each character brought different perspectives on the journey and life, which was refreshing. This was an enjoyable book. My only comment is that the first 100 pages were a bit slow with all the character build-up. I thought it might have worked better had Franqui saved a bit of the backstory for later in the book. However, I would give this book four-and-a-half out of five stars and recommend it highly.
Patricia E. (Sugarcreek, OH)

Highly Recommended
Among travel fiction this book stands out because the vacation described takes place solely within the borders of the U.S. Three very different people undertake a sightseeing journey with varying motives. Their perspectives come from differences in culture, nationalities, social class and religion. Mrs. Sengupta, a wealthy widow from India, arranges the trip ostensibly to see America for the first time. Tour guide Satya, an immigrant from Bangladesh, wants to impress his boss at the travel agency despite the fact that he's never been outside of New York City. Rebecca Elliott serves as a companion to a woman she's never met because her acting career is at a standstill and she needs the promised $3,000 payment.

As the three of them come together in an unlikely alliance, readers can experience their growth and changing interactions as they visit each stop in this touching and very well written novel. I recommend it without reservation.
Melanie B. (Desoto, TX)

Excellent, heartwarming story!
This is one of the best books I've read this year! From start to finish, this story of three very different yet similar people on a guided tour across the USA is beautifully written, emotional and suspenseful at the same time. The novel underscores what most people already know — wherever you go, there you are. I highly recommend this book!
Dona H. (Muskegon, MI)

Emotional Journey
To me, what makes "America for Beginners" an excellent read is not the theme of immigrants learning about America, but rather the more universal theme of young adults struggling to live their lives fully despite parental disapproval. As the wealthy Indian widow, Pival, crosses the country searching for knowledge of her estranged son, accompanied by a young unemployed actress and a lonely Bangladeshi immigrant, she struggles with an unhappy life created by the crippling expectations of her parents and her unloving husband. The hapless tour guide, Satya, provides humor through his clumsy, well-meaning performance of his job, while Rebecca, the paid companion, models resilient independence. I was drawn into the stories of each character's struggles as they came together to see America.
Amy W. (Annapolis, MD)

Beautiful Story
A beautifully written story of 3 people who would not have otherwise been friends or encountered one another if not for the journey they took together. It takes a very talented author to manage multiple narrations of a story without taking away from the flow of the book. Leah Franqui does this seamlessly. I never minded when the chapters switched voices as each one was engaging and added to the overall story. The friendships that develop over the course of the journey was heartwarming. A wonderful book that I highly recommend.
Carole C. (Willow Street, PA)

America for Beginners -- A Primer for Hopefuls
What a curious and complex cast of characters Leah Frangui created for her debut novel. A wealthy but naive widow from Kolkata, with a Bangladeshi immigrant posing as an Indian guide and a feisty down-and-out American actress as companion lead the troupe in their (and the reader's vicarious) journey across the USA. Add to these the voices of the vividly drawn supporting characters, and there emerges a smooth narrative, compelling in its humor and its pathos. I laughed out loud at some scenes; at others, I wept. The characters, flawed as they are, ring true in their grief, guilt, and prejudices, and in their quests for acceptance, forgiveness, and a small slice of American freedom. Are the loose ends at the novel's finish too quickly and neatly tied up? Probably. But the lasting impressions for this reader were of joy and hope.

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