America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

America for Beginners

Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi dev...

Details America for Beginners

TitleAmerica for Beginners
Release DateJul 24th, 2018
PublisherWilliam Morrow
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Cultural, India, Adult Fiction, Adult

Reviews America for Beginners

  • Thomas
    4 starsThis is a fictional story of Pival Sengupta, a wealthy widow from Kolkata, India. Her husband Ram has been dead for several months and she decides to go to the United States, ostensibly to take a guided tour, but in reality to find out if her gay son Rahi is alive or dead. When he came out to his parents, his father disowned him and forbade him from all future contact. Ram received a phone call shortly after Rahi announced that he was gay....
  • Rohan
    America for Beginners is an extraordinary debut by Leah Franqui. Once I finished the book, it gave me a tremendous sense of lightness and hope. It is something I wanted from a book for a while as I struggle to find a sense of hope from the world nowadays. After so many authors telling me what is wrong with the world and humanity, it warmed my heart to read something that told what was beautiful about humanity. In a world where nations and society...
  • Faith
    Recently widowed Pival Sengupta is 60 and has never left Kolkata. Her late husband Ram had told her that their son Rahi died in Los Angeles but Pavil never really accepted the news and now she is planning her first trip ever to find out the truth for herself. Rosni (Ronnie) Munshi owns a travel agency in New York that books tours for Indian and Pakistani tourists. He is from Bangladesh, a fact that he tries to hide from his clients. Pavil pays fo...
  • Celia
    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 Sangupta, 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...
  • Carole
    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 tour guide and a feisty down-and-out 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 narrative that is compelling in its humor and its p...
  • Allie
    I gave this book my sincere attention for around 30 pages before it started losing my interest. It was at this point that I realized why, after a while, the pages started feeling so laborious to get through. The summary, which describes the story as being about a woman traveling across America? It takes a third of the book for Pival to even get there (that's around 100 pages). Apparently it was very important that the story switch POV between 5 d...
  • Julia Kardon
    Pival Sengupta has never left Kolkata when she books a trip to America with an Indian travel company, but nothing in this road trip novel is exactly what it seems. Starting with the trip, which has a Bangladeshi, not Indian guide, and a female chaperone who is a young American actress. But also Pival, who is not on the trip to see America, but is hoping to find her son, who might be dead and whom the family cut off after he came out as gay. This ...
  • Kate Olson
    Thanks to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for this free review copy!.What a heartwarming and eye opening view of the US from an foreigner's perspective ~ I learned so much about my own country during the course of this novel, as well as about India and Bangladesh. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS brings us an Indian widow learning to be alone and coming to terms with her son's sexuality and her own former classist/homophobic beliefs, all during a whirlwin...
  • Mansi Kabra
    I don't write reviews so a book has to be very special for me to write something more than few words and most of this is blabber and most of the times i give authors benefit of doubt that may be they didn't want to portray whatever they portrayed in such a way but I guess this time I am not doing any such thing.Everything wrong with America for Beginners by Leah Franqui.(Yes I am writing all the wrongs, as many people have already written about w...
  • Carly
    The synopsis of this novel immediately pulled me in. It took me a while to finish, and at times I found my thoughts wandering, but I absolutely loved reading it. America for Beginners follows the lives of three diverse strangers who find themselves bound together. Pival is a recent widow who plans to visit the US with an Indian tour company. She is not just hoping to see the sights, but also discover the whereabouts of her estranged son. Satya is...
  • Wendy
    Stirring and touching, “America for Beginners” which I won through Goodreads Giveaways begins when recently widowed Pival Sengupta a Bengali woman who has never travelled outside her home in Kolkata takes a cross-country tour from New York City to California with her guide Satya Roy and female chaperone Rebecca Eliot. On a trip where she’s determined to find out whether her beloved son Rahi who was ostracized by his father after declaring h...
  • Vivek Tejuja
    Now, I have read a lot of books about immigrants and their lifestyles and what happens when you move countries or come to America, as they say. But this is not a story of an immigrant. In fact, it is just a story of a mother who has to come to terms with her son’s sexual preference and lifestyle, after his death. This struck a chord. It hit home and stayed there for a while. I was constantly thinking of my mother and what was she going through ...
  • Lopa
    When I saw this book featured on Goodreads and read the summary, I thought I would enjoy the book. As I read the first few chapters and realized that one of the main characters is a Hindu Bangladeshi Bengali from Sylhet, like myself, I was even more excited to keep reading. I’ve never read a book that had such a character. Usually a book has a Bangladeshi character, they are Muslim since the country’s population is 90% Muslim. But as I kept r...
  • Pamela Detlor
    America for Beginners is, quite simply, the most beautiful work of fiction I have read in years. In a story rich with character and charm, Leah Franqui, has more than delivered in this debut work.While there are numerous characters who’s stories weave life into this story, the focus falls on five lives, stemming from vastly different worlds, and each is somewhat lost; until their lives intersect. Each one having something to teach and much to l...
  • Heather
    Amazing book - I didn't want to put it down! This book demonstrates the cultural differences between countries (in this case India and the USA) and how accepting that every individual has their own views. Pival, an Indian widow, sets out on a trip to the USA to find the truth of her son, Rahi/Bhim, who had left years before for the States and who was cut off from his family for coming out to his father. At the same time, Rebecca, an American who ...
  • Sylvia
    What an appealing book. Three unique and sympathetic characters take a trip across America with multicultural confusions and prejudices that are slowly overcome by compassion and friendship. A pleasure to read.
  • Diane
    There is nothing more exciting than reading a debut novel and falling in love with the story and characters. That just happened for me with Leah Franqui's America For Beginners.We begin with Mrs. Pival Sengupta, a recent Bangladeshi widow, planning a trip to America. We learn that Pival had an unhappy marriage to a man who verballly abused her, and banished their only son Rahi for a reason we come to learn later. Pival is "going to America to fin...
  • BookOfCinz
    This is a feel-good, totally heart-warming, smiling inducing read and I gobbled it all up!In America for Beginners we meet Pival Sengupta who is from India. She recently lost her husband. She decided to do something that is totally outside of her comfort zone- that is, book a trip to the USA to do a cross-country tour. Pival hopes to find out the truth about her son, Rahi who was banished from her home after her husband Ram, found out he was ga...
  • Amanda
    People kept telling me how much they loved, loved, loved this novel. And I completely understand why because I also loved, loved, loved this novel.It shifts perspectives, but in such a way that I was never disappointed one chapter was ending and another was beginning because I was deeply invested in every single story. Each character was so well-developed and lovable and flawed. I'm always a sucker for novels that explore America geographically a...
  • Marissa
    Goodreads Advance Reader's Edition A widow travels to America to find closure after her husband dies. She comes to America to find her son who died months before. She hires a tour guide and a companion to buy time as a ruse.It is more than a journey as it weaves the interactions of different cultures and even what we perceive as the same cultures has their own biases and beliefs
  • Stacey A. Prose and Palate
    "I don't want to talk about my father," Bhim said, gently, to diffuse the sting. Jake thought for a moment. "What about your mother then?" Bhim smiles, a smile Jake had never seen before. It was a gentle spreading of his lips, soft and smooth. His face suffused with light, like he was thinking of something wonderful. "My mother is the reason that I love you," Bhim said simply. "She is the reason that I know what love is."My heart, ya'll. I loved ...
  • Betty
    If you enjoyed Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A PLACE FOR US, I highly recommend AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS.Three misfits set out on a journey across America, a journey of evolution, and are changed forever.Pival Sengupta, a newly widowed Indian woman, has booked a trip to America. Her servants are outraged! A woman just does not do this alone. But Pival is not going to see the sights of America. Instead, she is hoping to find her son whom her husband has t...
  • Shanti
    This is, quite possibly, the best book I have read this year. It is about the many forms of loneliness. It is about things which hurt. It is about forgiving people. It is about being a stranger in a strange land, and being a stranger in a familiar land, and what to do when you are both at once. It is about characters who ask questions which hurt. Pival is asking: Who am I when I am without the context of my family and my home?Rachel is asking: Wh...
  • Neelam Babul
    An extraordinary story about a recently widowed woman, Pival Sengupta who was shadowed by the decisions of her husband forcing her to lose herself bit by bit. After his death she decides to travel to America not letting anyone know that the real intent is to trace her son Rahi who was estranged from her after an argument. During her tour we meet other characters like Satya, Rebecca, Ronnie and Jack who all have their distinct stories and challeng...
  • Jeimy
    I want everyone to read this tale of a widow who travels across the U.S. to find out the truth about what happened to her estranged son.
  • Marcy
    This was a totally enjoyable and sweetly told story of an unusual road trip that ultimately compares and contrast 2 vastly different cultures. The tone and the humor in this book was a refreshing change from the depressing immigrant stories written of late.
  • Kumari De Silva
    The story premise is sweet, slightly intriguing, but the execution felt hollow. Too much of the book rests in external conflict, and too little in internal conflict. Pival has the external conflict of an over-controlling husband. She misses her only son dearly. Her servants don't take her seriously. Changing the situation, however, seems to require not much besides changing it, i.e. husband dies (not a spoiler, he's dead at the start of the story...
  • Jill
    This is a story of a journey of self-discovery for three people thrown together on a trip across the country. In a way they are all newcomers to America. Pival Sengupta, newly widowed at age 60, is from Kolkata, India. Her young American guide, Satya Roy, was originally from Bangladesh but he is pretending to be from India. Rebecca Eliot, hired as a companion for Pival, is from America but has barely traveled at anywhere. All three of them are lo...
  • Donna Bijas
    4.5 stars for this gem from a first-book author. A story of a widowed Bengali woman planning to travel across the United States with a Bangladeshi man and a young failing American actress. The story of 3 lost souls joining together their faith, their lives and customs. A story of becoming close to those different from one’s self. I loved it.
  • KC
    After the death of her husband, Kolkata native Pival Sengupta is on a mission to find her son believing he resides in California.. Estranged from his family after coming out to his parents, Rahi heads to the States to study marine biology. Pival embarks on a cross country journey starting in NYC with the assistance of two young chaperones. This heart warming story blends cultural diversities and the pit falls that often accompany them. These thre...