Fishman’s debut, A Replacement Life, was a comic novel about American immigrant experience which was reviewed on the cover of the NYTBR. Not a bad start for a writer the NYT calls “bold, ambitious and wickedly smart.”
This second novel is also about immigrant experience and family, but with a nifty road trip twist. When the adopted son of two Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, starts to act out in ways that suggest his Montana roots might be in his very genes, the family takes the boy on a trip out West to find his birth parents. While on the road, the story starts to focus in on Maya Rubin, we’re offered a second journey of self-discovery; the mother with suppressed dreams starts to recognize herself in her headstrong young son and the plot takes a surprising and satisfying twist.
“[Fishman] has plenty of insights on how blurrily parents often perceive the nature-versus-nurture divide…. [And in this road trip story] Fishman entertainingly satirizes a host of types (a folk healer, a dotty psychologist, a weary adoption-agency staffer, starchy old-world in-laws), but he’s sincere when it comes to Maya, who’s at the center of a plot twist that gives the closing chapters their gravitas….Fishman smartly observes that the assimilation novel and road-trip novel make good partners. Both, after all, are about finding freedom. A comic novel about parenting infused with emotional intelligence.”
— Kirkus Reviews
Ukrainian exchange student Maya Shulman wants to be a chef and new love Alex Rubin wants to get beyond his smothering parents. Alas, 20 years later and now married, Maya is resigned to being a medical worker and Alex has followed his father into the family business. They’ve also adopted a son from two teenagers in Montana, but eight-year-old Max is going wild, chatting up wild animals and eating grass. Does this have anything to do with his birth mother’s departing plea, ‘Don’t let my baby do rodeo’? Maya and Alex launch on a journey west to find out.”
— Library Journal
“When Max (an ‘unquestionable goy’) begins acting erratically—disappearing after school, chewing grass, befriending deer—Maya determines that his strange behavior has somehow to do with his being adopted—which Max doesn’t know. With the intention of finding his birth parents…the Rubins set out for Montana, the state where Max was born. As the family, who rarely travel outside of New Jersey, make their way westward, encountering the eccentricities of American culture along the way…a sensitive and surprisingly adventurous exploration of one woman’s wonder and suffering.”
— Publishers Weekly
Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo (9780062384362) by Boris Fishman. $26.99 hardcover. 3/1/16 on sale.