The Son Of Good Fortune summary

The Son Of Good Fortune summary

The Son of Good Fortune by Lysley Tenorio (Author)

The Son of Good Fortune summary is about a small family including Maxima the mother and Excel the son. They are in Flipino immigrants in California, undocumented. They do what they can to make enough money to live hand to mouth, make sure that each of them is undetectable by the police and by the people around them. A B-movie action star back in Filipina, on the Internet, Maxima puts on another personality to lure men into wiring her money. The glory of the old days gives her the confidence to do what it takes to be in America. In the meantime, Excel finds himself in the grip of love and flees to a hippie commune. Always struggle with an invisible target, the boy can’t imagine life if he wasn’t hiding and hiding, or by his word “TNT – Tago and Tago”.

The story slides back and forth in time, begins with when Maxima starred in her once-of-a-lifetime movie, then moved to the US, pregnant – to when Excel comes back to her after a year drifting. Intertwined with the story of the undocumented is the estrangement of a difficult relationship between mother and son. A hint of romance is revealed as Excel falls in love with Sab, and the couple moves to Hello City together. Even amid the desert where no one pays attention to who he is (and who he isn’t), things still don’t go well for the Son of Good Fortune.


As always, the characters in Lysley Tenorio are empathetic yet vibrant. With heartening laughs and eccentric characters, readers have a good chance to get a glimpse of the things we may do once faced with poverty. The American dreams that only result in disenchantment, or the displacement of otherwise beautiful souls. As always, the gusto and compassion of the authors on unfortunate lives seeps through the lines. 

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Lysley Tenorio is the author of the novel THE SON OF GOOD FORTUNE and the story collection MONSTRESS, named a book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Award, a Stegner fellowship, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Bogliasco Foundation. His stories have appeared in the Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Ploughshares, and have been adapted for the stage by The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Ma-Yi Theater in New York City. He is a professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.


“Tenorio’s insistence on the specificity of his characters’ dreams and longings is its own kind of argument for their right to be here…. An affecting portrayal of just how potently a parent can shape the expectations of her child…. His story is a tribute to the extreme inner strength it takes to make any life decision look like fate.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Sharp and compassionate…. Tenorio is a gifted, expressive writer about the Filipino American diaspora…. A powerful story about what it takes to uncover a sense of oneself when you’ve been forced to keep it under wraps.” (USA Today)

“Lysley Tenorio’s funny and poignant second novel, The Son of Good Fortune, couldn’t come at a better time…. Tenorio skillfully wrings high comedy from his characters’ boxed-in lives in a country that doesn’t know what to do with them…. Timely.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

"When you don’t belong where you are, where exactly do you belong? Lysley Tenorio’s engaging and comic first novel about immigration and identity asks this question with compassion and savage humor." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“[The Son of Good Fortune is] a reminder that many experiences comprise the definition of what makes a person American…. Tenorio skillfully sketches out what an all-American boy like Excel experiences in his in-betweenness…. A damning yet clear-eyed acknowledgement that for many, the American dream is merely survival.” (Salon)

“Tenorio, himself a Filipino immigrant, accurately and compassionately portrays the immigrant experience.  Despite its universality, The Son of Good Fortune doesn’t lack for originality…. The story finds a witty voice and sets a unique tone. Despite the drudgery and harshness of immigrant life, Tenorio explores the humanity in the tribulations and creates characters who are as lovable as they are real. With his debut novel, Tenorio excavates joy from the immigrant experience.” (BookPage)

“A bewitching and highly approachable novel on what it’s like to be an undocumented American…. With his sensitive and subdued style of writing, Tenorio has crafted a novel that speaks to the experience of the undocumented, as well to what we all must hide in order to survive.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)

"Filled with the kind of absurdities that accompany the most difficult truths, Lysley Tenorio's brilliant, witty novel about the love of a mother and son, the immigrant experience in America, and the surreality of our current reality, is bold, ambitious, and unforgettable." (Refinery 29)