Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review: Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo by Boris Fishman

Title: Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo
Date Published: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours


The author of the critically admired, award-winning A Replacement Life turns to a different kind of story—an evocative, nuanced portrait of marriage and family, a woman reckoning with what she’s given up to make both work, and the universal question of how we reconcile who we are and whom the world wants us to be.

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.

Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo is a novel about the mystery of inheritance and what exactly it means to belong.

The flow of this book kept me turning page after page. I felt it very easy to connect to Maya, even though I disliked Alex very much. To see how the author wove their paths together and adding Max to the mix, it was quite well done. But, I didn't love the book. I felt that the plot was good and that the characters were fairly strongly written. But I had a hard time connecting with Alex and didn't like how their marriage worked. That is certainly my own opinion, and please don't let it sway your decision to read this book.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour.