cover image Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo

Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo

Boris Fishman. Harper, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-238436-2

This touching second novel by Fishman (A Replacement Life) centers on a Jewish immigrant couple, Ukrainian-born Maya Rubin and Belarusian-born Alex Rubin, who live in northern New Jersey with their eight-year-old adopted son, Max. 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 (not since the young Maya and Alex first drove Max to New Jersey eight years before, betraying the closed nature of the adoption, have Maya and Alex heard from his parents), and showing Max where he came from, 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, the spotlight focuses on Maya, who is overpowered by feelings of parental insecurity and restlessness. After a slow start, the novel, which seems at first like a road trip story, transforms into a sensitive and surprisingly adventurous exploration of one woman’s wonder and suffering. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Mar.)