cover image Bindi


Paul Matthew Maisano. Little, Brown, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-50948-0

Maisano’s poignant debut follows eight-year-old Birendra’s quest for family after his mother’s death in 1993 replaces a stable childhood with an overwhelming loss. The boy yearns to contact his Aunt Nayana and Uncle Ramesh, who live in West London, a vast distance from his Kerala home. The letter containing the news doesn’t reach his family before Birendra is taken to an orphanage to work for his board. In London, Nayana grapples with being pregnant and consumed by worry she will again miscarry, and doesn’t initially dwell on not hearing from her twin sister. Meanwhile, Madeline, a 39-year-old single woman from Los Angeles, travels to India to find meaning in her life. While there, Madeline adopts Birendra and names him Bindi, even though the orphanage director is aware of the possible existence of his London family. Back in L.A., Madeline’s brother, Edward, is taken with his new nephew, yet he feels compelled to learn more about Bindi’s hidden Indian family, which unites the narrative’s threads. Maisano’s novel effectively captures the settings across the globe and creates a realistic and imperfect family, movingly demonstrating how a combination of chance, persistence, and love creates lasting ties. (Aug.)