Reader reviews and comments on America for Beginners, plus links to write your own review.

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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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Kathryn H. (Narvon, PA)

Hero Takes a Journey
Road trip! One Indian widow, one out-of-work Jewish actress and one Bangladeshi tour guide take a whirlwind tour of America going from New York City to Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Washington, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and ending up in L.A. Culture shock experiencing America and culture shock for the group experiencing each other. I was curious as to how the author could bridge the cultures with authenticity and found she has a Jewish -Puerto Rican heritage and her husband was born in Kolkata. (

Having been to most of the places visited, I enjoyed seeing them through other eyes. I had a hard time imaging doing all this in two weeks, but I know it is possible. The descriptions of each place seemed quite accurate. But obviously, that is just the background for how the group interacts and struggles to understand each other and to understand themselves. This is especially true of Pival, who is also on a spiritual journey of her own unbeknownst to the others. The characters were realistic, well drawn and believable. Perhaps a little slow in the beginning, the book is somewhere between light fiction and literature. I would suggest it for those interested in exploring different viewpoints and other cultures.
Carole S. (Whittier, NC)

America for Beginners
I enjoyed, America For Beginners, and found it to be a pleasant and satisfying read. Traveling across America together are 3 people from completely different cultural backgrounds. Their friendships and clashes lead them each to an awakening of who they are, what they want and how to find satisfaction and happiness. The book is emotional, but still an easy read infused with humor. Having spent time in India only made this story more charming to me.
Catheryne Z. (Plano, TX)

Interesting Road Trip
America for Beginners was an interesting, well written read. A wealthy Indian widow, a young male tour guide from a lower caste, and a struggling actress find themselves on a two week journey across America from New York City to Los Angeles. They each have different backgrounds and struggles. The author does a great job developing their back stories that explain how they got to this point. The book had me laughing at some parts and crying at others. Their different perspectives on their experiences were interesting. Despite their initial differences, they were able to eventually relate to each other. I felt empathy for all three characters. This book would be an enjoyable book club read. Readers of all ages and backgrounds would enjoy it as well.
Peggy A. (Morton Grove, IL)

Mash up: Lost in Translation and Road Trip
Reading this book was a fun and enlightening romp through cultural differences played out on a wide cross country landscape. Leah Franqui developed each of the three diverse characters into fully realized narrative individuals...each with their own backstory and evolving destinies. I enjoyed picking up this book and following their adventures as a mismatched threesome who came together for a brief time. The writing was clever and at the same time insightful. Looking forward to more good books from this debut author!
Celia P. (Melbourne, FL)

A Slow Start Does Lead to a Satisfying Ending
America for Beginners is the first novel written by Leah Franqui. It has many fine points, but also some disappointments along the way. The book is billed as a travel story where Pival Sangupti, recently widowed, is visiting America from India to find her estranged son. Before we get to traveling, however, the reader has to endure 110 pages of backstory on the many characters who would contribute to this journey. I kept saying 'enough', let's get to the traveling. I did enjoy the tour and how the widow interacted with her guide and her traveling companion. The guide, Satya, is a fledgling tour guide; aha, America for Beginners. The companion, Rebecca, is an out of work actress who hasn't traveled much beyond NYC; once again America for Beginners. And Pival is the rawest beginner of them all. The book ended well and somewhat erased its bad beginning. I guardedly do recommend it for its few poignant scenes and its ending which summed up everything very satisfactorily.
Jeanne B. (Albuquerque, NM)

Like Reading A Lifetime Movie
I think your appreciation for this book will depend on what you're looking to get out of it. If you want a feel-good, non-demanding story full of kind-hearted characters and happy endings, this is a pleasant, easy read. If a mixture of clichéd plot lines, wooden dialogue and painfully stereotyped scenic descriptions grates on your nerves, I would suggest taking a pass. Sadly, I fell more into the second category. I wanted to lose myself in the story but was repeatedly jarred to my senses by bad writing. I'm probably not the target audience for this book.
Peggy T. (Dallas)

Culture Clash
I finished this yesterday and still have feelings of ambivalence as to whether I really liked this book or not.  The setting of a cross country trip was a good way to bring together these three characters who were as unlike as the situation would allow. It is a good debut novel but personally, I had difficulty with the prejudices of some of the characters.  With time, some of these prejudices were overcome and some were not. The ending was hopeful for the most part but I still felt there was a pervading sense of melancholy even so. It was well written, a good book but it made me a bit sad. Maybe just not my cup of chai.

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