Motherhood: A Novel
by Siamak Vakili
Atmosphere Press

"'I’m here...I’m here with you...I will never let you go...never. Never, young man!'"

In southwest Iran, Dr. Mitra Shahverdi, sitting in her bedroom at midnight in Shiraz, awaits the New Year (March 20) holiday with pleasure. Suddenly, she hears a thump and a whimpering, sobbing sound from another room and discovers a stranger—a young boy—in her bathroom. Mitra sees that he is naked and apparently has no memory of his parents or home. Mitra calls authorities, trying to get him into protective custody. However, the appropriate personnel are away for the holiday and will be for a week. Mitra becomes an unwilling host to the "Young Man," an appellation that they agree on in place of a name.

Mitra's reaction is surprising at first, considering her depth of dislike for the role. But then this beautiful story unfolds. The boy wins her over in a few days by some well-timed physical contact, plus a serious asthma attack that awakens Mitra's medical (and maternal) instincts. The boy recovers from his bronchial disorder and a fairly new burn he receives while cooking. Mitra's mother then informs her that Mitra's son, left with his father by Mitra years ago when the boy was an infant, has had an asthma attack and is in a coma. Mitra and the Young Man go to Tehran to see the boy, and resolutions abound.

This beautiful story, emphasizing forgiveness, healing, and rebirth, is akin to many stories in which the main character is made whole by self-awareness and love. A twist on the tale is that the awareness comes from a bond that cannot be broken between two people, despite multiple external barriers. In short, love conquers even external denial. Shahverdi's book might especially appeal to fans of heartwarming fiction and similarly themed stories such as Silas Marner.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home