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America for Beginners: A Novel Audiobook, by Leah Franqui Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Leah Franqui Narrator: Soneela Nankani Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2018 ISBN: 9780062849120
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Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.

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 devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.

Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pavil’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week "working" vacation traveling across America be?

Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.

A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A tender, funny, wrenching, beautifully executed tale of three lost souls who traverse the chasms of cultural, generational, and geographical divides to forge some bonds strong and true enough to withstand life’s gut punches.”

    Library Jounal (starred review)

  • “Compassionate and funny, America for Beginners delves into the complications of family as three unlikely companions venture across a country that challenges their understanding of themselves. A charming debut by a fresh new voice.”

    Brit Bennett, New York Times bestselling author

  • “I loved this beautiful, deeply human tale.”

    Amita Trasi, author of The Color of Our Sky

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About the Author

Leah Franqui is a graduate of Yale University and received her MFA at NYU Tisch. She is also a dramatic writer and the recipient of the 2013 Goldberg Playwriting Award and the 2013 Alfred Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Award. A Puerto Rican–Jewish Philadelphia native, Franqui lives with her Kolkata-born husband in Mumbai. America for Beginners is her first novel.

About the Narrator

Adenrele Ojo is an actress, dancer, and audiobook narrator, winner of over a dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2018. She made her on-screen debut in My Little Girl, starring Jennifer Lopez, and has since starred in several other films. She has also performed extensively with the Philadelphia Dance Company. As the daughter of John E. Allen, Jr., founder and artistic director of Freedom Theatre, the oldest African American theater in Pennsylvania, is no stranger to the stage. In 2010 she performed in the Fountain Theatre’s production of The Ballad of Emmett Till, which won the 2010 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Ensemble. Other plays include August Wilson’s Jitney and Freedom Theatre’s own Black Nativity, where she played Mary.