BOUND, Bodach Books 2018 -- my first contemporary young-adult novel!

Set in Pullman, WA (home of Washington State University--Go Cougs!) where I lived and studied for fourteen years. 

Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi, an adopted girl from India, burn survivor, and primary caretaker of her intellectually disabled sister, Joy, has one dream—to be a physician. Her traditional Indian father relies upon Rebecca to care for Joy while he buries himself in work to drown his grief over his wife’s death. Leaving home is the only way Rebecca can envision reaching her goal. She helps Joy develop greater independence, and is devastated when Joy becomes pregnant. Rebecca tussles—with her father and with herself—over who is responsible for Joy and her baby. When Rebecca discovers the truth of what happened the day she was burned, she struggles to hold onto her dream while wrestling with questions of life, love, and responsibility. 

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Selected Reviews:

Reviewed in the United States on July 9, 2018
This book was such a surprise, and is food for thought. Though the author has dozens of traditionally published books for young children, this is her debut YA novel, independently published. The story is set around a family with two sisters, one physically challenged and the other mentally challenged, and a father who is unable to cope with the recent death of his wife. It is engrossing and well written, with characters so believable that I wanted to keep up with their journeys into the years beyond the book’s ending. Most of all, it is unlike anything I’ve seen in young adult books in many years.

The main character, sixteen-year-old Rebecca, is an Indian girl who is adopted into a prosperous Indian family in America. When she is eleven, Rebecca is burned in an accident that nearly takes her life and leaves her terribly scarred. Everything about her birth, her accident, and her tenuous bond with her child-like sister forms her worldview, her goals for her future, and her actions. But her grieving, angry father sees the world from a different perspective, and has other plans for her future. This difference sets Rebecca on a collision course with her father, threatening to shatter both their worlds.

Bravo, Vijaya Bodach! And encore, please!

Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2018
Vijaya's story held me bound, just as her compelling characters are bound by their circumstances, beliefs, and longings in her story. Teenage Rebecca longs to go to medical school and help poor children in India from where she herself was adopted. But she struggles with ties to her mentally disabled sister Joy for whom she's the primary caregiver since their mother's death the previous year. Their father has immersed himself in his academic work to deal with his grief and offers little help to the two girls. Rebecca also deals with horribly disfiguring scars from a severe burn she got as an 11-year-old. When unwed Joy becomes pregnant, Rebecca feels the ties binding her to home tightening even more. She's determined to break free and applies to college/med school programs in distant states. Vijaya's story is sensitive, thought-provoking, and authentic. She doesn't hesitate to deal with difficult ethical and moral questions, which makes the book a good one for stimulating discussion.
Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2018
High-school senior Rebecca can't wait to go away to college -- far away, where she can leave behind her father, who's retreated into his work after her mom's death last year, and her developmentally-disabled older sister. Rebecca, who was burned over 50% of her body as a preteen, is still dealing with surgeries and treatments for the burn scars and can't remember the accident that caused the fire. But Rebecca's dad isn't dealing with Joy's needs, leaving Rebecca to make decisions far beyond her years. When Joy becomes pregnant, the family is forced to rework this unhealthy dynamic. This engaging story is a sensitive treatment of prolife themes including abortion, end-of-life issues, and eugenics. Appropriate for teenagers, this would make an excellent classroom read.
Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2018
A beautiful story of the bond between sisters!
Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi has been through plenty of difficulties in her life: being abandoned as a newborn by her birth mother in India, growing up with a developmentally delayed older sister, suffering severe burn trauma as an eleven-year-old, the early death of her [adoptive] mother. She feels trapped by her scars and her past, as well as by her current state of caring for her sister as her father buries himself in his work. Things go from tough to unimaginable when her sister becomes the victim of manipulative abuse and learns she is pregnant. As Rebecca plans for her own future, she struggles with the weight of responsibility, hope and fear for her future, and a mystery about the day she was burned...
I loved the way Rebecca's ideas and ideologies change as her character develops in the story--without a touch of preachiness, the author is able to present both sides of many difficult topics that the characters encounter.
Look no further if you're interested in reading a story as diverse in its ideas as in its characters.
Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2019
A wonderful YA story that deals with a lot of subjects that many teens (and others) face — being physically different or developmentally different, bullying, death of a parent, teen pregnancy and the options our society promotes to deal with it, pressure to be what parents want you to be, and others.

I was afraid it might get too depressing, seeing as the main character has these heavy issues to deal with, but Vijaya handles everything with a loving touch so that we do hurt with Rebecca but aren't overwhelmed. The love and care of Jesus shines through in a realistic and gentle way.
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2018
4* for the author's courageous take on the difficult subjects of abortion and unwanted pregnancy for developmentally- challenged young women. Yes, the pregnancy was unwanted at first, but the baby is very much loved and wanted. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the Indian culture, of how Life is like for traditional Indians and the American-Indians. How some values don't change.
Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2018
The author had me from her first sentence. There are so many things that I loved about the book: the believable characterizations of adopted Rebecca, intellectually disabled Joy, and their workaholic father, the impeccable fidelity of Rebecca’s voice from the first to the last page, Joy’s simple and disarming wisdom regarding the gift of life. The descriptions of the medical procedures were so detailed I wondered if the author had gone through the process of skin grafts personally. The many surprises throughout the plot make it an addictive read. When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about when I could next carve out time to next read the book. Such a fantastic novel debut! Looking forward to her next novel 😊
Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2018
This is a multi-layered story with many current topics faced head on in a beautiful and thought provoking way! Rebecca, a burn survivor, is trying to get away from a mentally challenged sister, and a stubborn and prideful father, to pursue her own dream. But when her sister becomes pregnant everything changes and her plan begins to blow up! As Rebecca "sheds her old skin" through recovery procedures, she is also shedding deeply ingrained thoughts and patterns making room for a new way of grace. The many nuggets of wisdom she learned from her mother who passed away slowly become understood and internalized. The ending of this story, especially after we learned just HOW Rebecca was burned, is a beautiful culmination of her growth, and the positive message that God does eventually work "all things for good." This would be a wonderful book to read and discuss with a teenager!
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2018
This is a beautifully written book with the characters coming alive in front of your eyes. I'm not a big reader so the story has to get my attention in the first couple of pages to continue reading. The story is from the eyes of a 17 year old adopted girl from India who is a burn survivor. It's her journey of dealing with her older sister who is mentally handicapped to some degree and gets pregnant. Who's responsibility is it to take care of her sister? What about her own dreams and desires?

This book also covers some very sensitive issues on abortion and euthanasia.. Very well written . I wish I had read this book when I was young. It would have given me a whole new perspective to life. My sincere thanks to the author, for writing this book. A sequel Ms. Bodach? Hint, hint! I want to know how life unfolds for the sisters in the future.
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2018
Original story with unique characters and a rare look at Indian-American culture. So much of this book was enjoyable. Rebecca, a burn survivor marked by severe scarring and her mentally disabled sister Joy really stand out.

There's a little mystery, a lot of healing (physical and otherwise) and prominent life-related themes that are addressed organically in the story.

Looking forward to reading more novels by this author!
Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2020
Bound is a wonderful book full of hope. It explores the value of life in various stages and situations. From the main character's issues with her disfigurement to the unplanned pregnancy of her developmentally challenged sister to the end of life issues of her elderly relative in India, Bound shows from each perspective and from the perspectives of the caregivers that life - no matter how challenging - has inherent dignity and is always worth living.
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2018
A powerful story beautifully written. Tough topics--eugenics, abortion, adoption, family (and more)--confronted unflinchingly, and yet with compassion. No didacticism or pat answers in BOUND. Echos of Jacquelyn Mitchard's SECOND NATURE. Both are love stories, too. A wonderful debut by author Vijaya Bodach. I recommend this novel used in classrooms for much-needed discussions.
Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2018
Bound is the best fictional book I’ve read in a long time. The author wove a plot that kept me guessing until the end. The characters are interesting and their family dynamics are relatable. Joy is so endearing that I’m going to miss her! Like a good movie, the book kept me engaged so that when I finished, it took me a second to get back to my reality. And the ending was perfect – no Nicholas Sparks’ disappointments here. I highly recommend it, especially for book clubs because it will ignite lively discussions.
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2018
This book is incredibly beautiful! From the first page, I became immersed in the deep tapestry of the story. I enjoyed each contrasting thread, admiring the intricate embroidery of words, emotions, and plot twists. It was very satisfying to reach the end of a book and experience encouragement and hope. Love and joy can be found in dark, difficult circumstances.
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2019
This is a page turner with multidimensional characters and realistic, compelling choices for the main character. The metaphor of the possibility of alternate realities is apt as Rebecca navigates a series of tough decisions and revelations to ultimately make up her own mind in a way that is satisfying and believable.
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2019
Vijaya Bodach has used her scientific knowledge and sensitive understanding of family relations to write a powerful and authentic YA novel. The inner and outward daily struggles of Rebecca, the protagonist, to live with an older sister with learning disabilities aptly portrayed the frustrations as well as the triumphs of such a situation. When her sister becomes pregnant, Rebecca is faced with decisions and responsibilities that should rightly have belonged to her father. Her own future, and that of her sister, ride on the biggest decision of all: whether the baby should be aborted or not. Bodach paints a realistic picture of the way Rebecca handles herself and her sister through this crisis. This is a thought-provoking, beautifully written account of a life-changing decision.
Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2018
Powerful debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story.  The characters are well-defined, three-dimensional, and real, the setting full of sensory details, and the plot exceptional.  Highly recommend!