Friday, June 1, 2018

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

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Just released: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Algonquin Book
Genre: Literary, Family, Asian American, China
Hardback: 352
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school.

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heart wrenching choice after another.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

My two-bits:

I had an overall feeling of sad while reading this book. The plight of the situations and the realities were presented in a heartbreaking fashion.

I liked how this portrays both perspectives of the mother and son. Both with their individual pains yet survival in the U.S.


* Winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.

* Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, TIME, Bustle, Buzzfeed, The Millions, NYLON, The Washington Post, and others

* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of International Book Club (here)

* part of BookSparks Reading Challenge, Summer 2017 (here)
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