Book Review: “Pilgrim Maya”

  • “Pilgrim Maya” by Bela Breslau and Stephen Billias CONTRIBUTED

For the Recorder
Published: 10/21/2022 4:13:33 PM

“Pilgrim Maya” by Bela Breslau and Stephen Billias (Odeon Press, 372 pages, $16)

As “Pilgrim Maya” opens, its heroine is immersed in sadness. Maya Marinovich has lost her husband and small daughter in a car accident. She survived the accident with no physical wounds but with deep spiritual ones.

After treading water in her hometown of Boston for months and going to therapy sessions but seeing no benefit from them, Maya decides to try life in another place. She and her backpack land in San Francisco.

There she goes through three new phases of life. In the first, Maya is befriended by the Lost Tribe, a Jewish-Japanese religious group with a young charismatic leader.

She becomes romantically involved with the leader. Eventually, she wisely decides that although she is happy to know that she can still feel passion, his life path is not to be hers.

She then gets a job as property manager for the Bon Vivants. These eclectic artists and musicians make their home in an old warehouse.

The Bon Vivants’ headquarters is something of a salon and something of a stage for performance art. Maya makes new friends there and begins to explore her own potential for creating art and literature.

When Maya receives the insurance settlement for the lives of her lost loved ones, the insurance company also sends her details she hadn’t known before about the deaths of her husband and child. That knowledge sends her into a new paroxysm of grief.

Fortunately, with the help of her friends, her mother and a Buddhist couple who minister to the needy, she enters the third part of her journey of self-discovery. She has been healing all along, but she finally comprehends and accepts that healing as she meditates, exercises and reaches out to help other people.

I have one tiny quibble with “Pilgrim Maya,” and that is the role luck plays in Maya’s journey. She always lands on her feet and always finds potential love interests.

I have a feeling that Maya would tell me that if I opened myself up to life and spirituality in the way she finally does, I might have that kind of luck as well. Perhaps she would be right. In any case, my quibble didn’t keep me from becoming completely absorbed in Maya’s story.

The creators of “Pilgrim Maya,” Bela Breslau and Stephen Billias, describe their partnership as a “literary marriage.”

The Deerfield couple certainly know how to craft a story and to make readers care about their protagonist. Maya’s pilgrimage is moving and fascinating. The story of her physical and spiritual journey will stay with me for some time.

Bela Breslau and Stephen Billias will read from “Pilgrim Maya” at their book-launch party on Sat., Oct. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Windhorse Hill Retreat Center on River Road in Deerfield. John Zax and friends will provide music for the event, and books will be available for sale.

For more information about “Pilgrim Maya,” visit

Tinky Weisblat is an award-winning author and singer. Her new book is “Pot Luck: Random Acts of Cooking.” Visit her website,


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