Maya Shulman and Alex Rubin met in 1992, when she was a Ukrainian exchange student with “a devil in [her] head” about becoming a chef instead of a medical worker, and he the coddled son of Russian immigrants wanting to toe the water of a less predictable life.
Twenty years later, Maya Rubin is a medical worker in suburban New Jersey, and Alex his father’s second in the family business. The great dislocation of their lives is their eight-year-old son Max—adopted from two teenagers in Montana despite Alex’s view that “adopted children are second-class.”
At once a salvation and a mystery to his parents—with whom Max’s biological mother left the child with the cryptic exhortation “don’t let my baby do rodeo”—Max suddenly turns feral, consorting with wild animals, eating grass, and running away to sit face down in a river.
Searching for answers, Maya convinces Alex to embark on a cross-country trip to Montana to track down Max’s birth parents—the first drive west of New Jersey of their American lives. But it’s Maya who’s illuminated by the journey, her own erstwhile wildness summoned for a reckoning by the unsparing landscape, with seismic consequences for herself and her family
Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star
I was not sure what to expect with this book as it was definitely very unique and although I had trouble getting into it, I came to really enjoy the characters and the resilience and chutzpah they demonstrated.
This story focuses on a family that has adopted a son and all of the impact that can have on a life. On the parents mainly. It is a story of reckoning and knowing yourself. A story that gives hope in some senses as well. I found the family dynamic quite interesting and unique since everyone lived under one roof which may be more normal for some, but not for me. I had never thought of what that would be like until reading this book and it opened my eyes to see Maya have to deal with it.
I really enjoyed the cultural aspect of this story as it certainly involved everything possible, from history, culture to food which helped create a more complete picture of this family and their story.
The story seemed kind of slow for me at the beginning, but then ended up being somewhat of a whirlwind adventure, bringing the family on a journey, in reality and metaphorically. I truly enjoyed this book which showed how to come to terms with oneself. And I loved that the author did not shy away from difficult topics like immigration and adoption, showing us how to embrace who we are, no matter what.
Thank you to Harper Collins for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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