Reading guide for America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

America for Beginners

by Leah Franqui

America for Beginners by Leah Franqui X
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jul 2018, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. "Mrs. Sengupta was traveling scandalously alone, without a husband or a gaggle of women her own age…" Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to go to the US by herself. What about a woman—especially an older woman—traveling alone is so alarming to them? Is it really about safety—as Pival's maid insists—or about propriety? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?
  2. "Nothing would erase the sense of continued shame" that Satya feels for abandoning his friend Ravi and edging him out of a job. How do you feel about Satya's betrayal of Ravi? Is it understandable or unforgiveable?
  3. Mr. Ghazi sees Rebecca's "early enthusiasm become a hardened fear, and he worried for her." How do you feel about Rebecca's sadness and struggles compared to the sadness and struggles of other characters in the book? What does she, the American-born child of an affluent family, stand to learn from the journey, and from the other "beginners?"
  4. Ronnie Munshi seems to have achieved the American Dream: arriving from Bangladesh with no money, building a successful business, bringing over a wife, and employing other new arrivals. What do you make of him? Is he the picture of a "model immigrant"? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?
  5. Bhim calls himself "the ice queen" because he is so painfully unaffectionate with Jake in public. Jake "thought that Bhim was determined to live in a way his parents would approve of, despite the fact that they would never know it."  Why can't Bhim just be out and proud in this new gay-friendly country? How do Jake and Bhim navigate Bhim's deep sense of shame and keep it from destroying their love?
  6. Pival reflects that "at home Bangladeshis had no status. They did the worst jobs, if they had jobs at all. They were illegal immigrants with no rights and no names, just men who melted into the background and women who looked hungry all the time." Because of this stigma, Ronnie Munshi is desperate to ensure that none of his Indian clients know he and his guides are Bangladeshi. Does this distinction between Bangladeshis and Indians matter in America? Do "illegal immigrants" in America face the same stigma as those Bangladeshis in India?
  7. Pival reflects that "I do think most parents at the heart, want their children to be happy. It is only that we want our children to be happy in the right way. The way we were taught that happiness was. I think this is a cause of much pain, thinking, perhaps, that there is a right way." Would Bhim agree? Would Rebecca, who has her own fraught relationship with her parents?
  8. Did you think that Bhim might still be alive, and be reunited with his mother? Why or why not?
  9. As a college student, before her marriage, Pival describes herself as "young, alive with purpose." Does she regain her purpose by the end of the novel? How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?
  10. "When she woke, the first thought Pival had was, What happens next?" What do you think happens next for these characters? Where will they be five or ten years after the end of this novel?
Free Book Club Report

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of William Morrow. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Prison
    American Prison
    by Shane Bauer
    After spending over two years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for supposedly crossing the country's ...
  • Book Jacket: Small Fry
    Small Fry
    by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    Small Fry is the debut memoir from Lisa Brennan-Jobs, long-time journalist and writer, and oldest ...
  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...
  • Book Jacket: Brother
    Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Sold on a Monday
    by Kristina McMorris

    An unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.