Mayu: The Life of a Finnish Woman

Mayu both loves and loathes her father. She hates his alcoholic rages, his abuse, and his abandonment. But his talk of social justice kindles her imagination and fills her heart with passion. She vows to defy her mother’s acquiescent example in her own life.

As she grows up, Mayu’s intelligence and hard work propel her forward. At the same time, she is disappointed over and over in her relationships. As her career takes her around the world, she encounters a wide variety of men who both attract and repel her. She marries an American, but his incessant womanizing drives them apart, and she finds herself the lonely single mother of two boys.

She meets a sincere Indian American, and she and he link up romantically. But Mayu’s emotional baggage, her messy domestic life, and the yawning cultural chasm between her and her Indian lover run like treacherous emotional fault-lines under the affair. Mayu’s intense desire for meaningful connection is at constant odds with her critical, skeptical independence.

This novel’s depiction of a modern woman’s life and struggles feels instantly and painfully authentic. Mayu juggles not only a career, but a defiant teenage son, a house full of dog hair, and those extra pounds that refuse to budge. There is solid truth in the book’s portrayal of romantic relationships, especially the compromises that are required between couples, and the times when such compromises seem too difficult to undertake or sustain.