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We Never Asked for Wings

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  17,728 ratings  ·  2,207 reviews
From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.

For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgot
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Ballantine Books
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Stacie they do mention in the book when Letty was a teen there was a busing program that took students from the landing to better schools, but it is no longe…morethey do mention in the book when Letty was a teen there was a busing program that took students from the landing to better schools, but it is no longer a program when Alex is a teen(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Joan Yesenia had been registered with false info. by Alex. The school probably did not know who her mother was, or where she really lived and she refused t…moreYesenia had been registered with false info. by Alex. The school probably did not know who her mother was, or where she really lived and she refused to tell them. Th kids had committed a serious crime of breaking and entering.(less)

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I wish I could say I loved this as much as I loved Diffenbaugh's "Language of Flowers," but it was a letdown. Superficial and "lite;" with a chick-lit love triangle, one dimensional characters, and a fluffy plot that wants to be taken seriously, but doesn't quite have the emotional core or gravitas to pull it off.

Just OK. Pleasant enough, but not memorable.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an advance reader copy of this book (my review is based on the hard cover version).

Angela M
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vanessa Diffenbaugh in her second novel , covers some tough issues and the story is quite a bit edgier than The Language of Flowers . She focuses here on the realities of teenage pregnancy , parental responsibility, illegal immigration and bullying. In keeping with her nature theme which was flowers and their meanings in her first book, this one is wrapped around birds and their flights with analogies to human behavior.

In the past year I have read several books which focus in some way on questi
Diane S ☔
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a story just grabs you, either for the plot or for the characters. In this one it was some of both, I loved the characters, their flaws, their hope and dreams, their struggles, but I also loved the plot. Young love, trying to become a mother for Luna, after a very long time when she let her parents raise her two children, Alex fifteen and Letty six. Loved Luna, her exuberance, her determination and her fun personality. Some of her antics had me laughing.

I loved this author previous no
Elyse  Walters
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"Migrating birds reorient themselves at sunset. The exact reason is unknown, but at twight,
just when the sun drops beyond the horizon line, birds flying in the wrong direction
correct their paths all at once".

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's first novel, "The Language of Flowers" warms our hearts and teaches us
about the nature of flowers and our relationships ...a beautiful story about a young girl coming of age -- having spent her life growing up through the Foster Care

In "We Never Asked For W
Apr 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
A woman that has a second chance to be mother to her two children, a young man in search of his birth father, a mother and daughter living under the shadow of immigration law enforcement. "We Never Asked for Wings" is everything a family centric fiction should be- emotional, a bit of romance, well written characters, fast moving plot and good writing.

I am looking forward to reading "The Language of Flowers" in the near future.
Cathrine ☯️
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5★ It was just okay, and then some.

Disappointing as I really loved The Language of Flowers. The only character I liked was Alex but reading from his POV was too YA which is not my thing. Heck, most of the time it read like YA from Letty’s POV, and I’m just going to admit here that Luna annoyed me as well but that’s her mother’s fault. I kept finding other things to engage in while trying to read this and looking at other books coming up in my hold queues. Even drinking wine didn’t help. I had
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars. Despite its serious premise, my final thought on finishing We Never Asked for Wings is that it was a sweet story -- mostly good, but at times verging on a bit too sweet and superficial. The story starts quite dramatically with 33 year old Lettie abandoning her two children -- Alex age 15 and Luna age 6, both from different fathers -- in an impoverished part of San Francisco to chase after her mother who had left for Mexico to join Lettie's father. Because Lettie's mother had essenti ...more
Amanda Patterson
I can’t remember the last time I set aside an afternoon to finish reading a book. I switched off everything electronic and enjoyed every page of 'We Never Asked For Wings'.

I was a huge fan of Diffenbaugh’s 'The Language of Flowers' and I started reading this book as soon as I received a review copy from the publishers. I was hooked from the first line: ‘It wasn’t too late to turn back.’

Letty, a 33-year-old mother of 15-year-old, Alex and six-year-old, Luna has left her children. She is followin
Vanessa Diffenbaugh has found her niche in combining the stories of vulnerable people with the detailed intricacies of natural world. Flowers acted as messenger and metaphor in Diffenbaugh’s earlier work, while birds and their feathers keep the story aloft here.

I enjoyed “The Language of Flowers” and was excited to read this book. In “We Never Asked for Wings,” Diffenbaugh tells the story of a young woman who is forced by circumstance to finally be a mother to her teenaged son and young daughte
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, heartbreaking
. . . the origin of our identity is love.

One of the best things about book friends is sharing a great story. Sometimes, they get you to read a book that you hadn’t planned on reading immediately and sometimes you end up totally falling in love with that story. That's what happened for me, with this one.

Letty broke my heart in the beginning. She was a horrible mother and just kept making one bad decision after another. It was hard to root for her and believe she would be able to pull it toget
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fabulous audio book. I do enjoy listening to lovely accents, and this lady knew her stuff. Spanish sounding and so authentic! This could possibly be a 4.5 star rating, but I am happy with leaving it at 5. I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago so unfortunately, this isn't a fresh review.

A young, selfish and careless young mother that has left the real 'mothering' to her own mother, finds herself needing to learn quick smart how to care for her children. Unable to cook properly
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel, The Language of Flowers, was an impressive debut that captured my heart. We Never Asked For Wings is a similarly poignant and touching story.

We Never Asked for Wings is a story of redemption as Letty Epinosa picks up the mantle of motherhood when her parents decide to move back to Mexico. After years of benign neglect, she has to learn what it means to be a parent who is emotionally present in her children's lives while providing for them as best she can. Letty
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
What a fantastic story! I don't know how I missed this one when it was published but it is a great story and relevant to our times. Struggling Mexican immigrants trying to find a place in our society, raising their children as best they can, sometimes being able to carve out a new life, sometimes not.

I listened to this as an audiobook and the voices came through loud and clear, the fear, the love, the wanting and needing to do the best for themselves and their families. This book is all about fa
You know the story, you’ve seen the movie, read the book.

Something happens to Mum and Dad, and the friend or sibling who has never been very good with kids becomes a sudden guardian, gets an instant family. They have their mishaps, of course, but together they work out their future, and grow to want to be around the people they were forced together with.

Only in this story, it’s Grandma and Grandpa who are suddenly gone. They decide to go back to Mexico, and leave their grandchildren to be raised
Susan Johnson
I was disappointed in the book. I know it is difficult to follow a wonderfully received novel like The Language of Flowers and the author even admits that in the Afterword but I expected more. It just didn't have the heart and soul that I wanted.

Letty is a young mother of teen-ager, Alex, and 6 year old, Luna. She has left the child raising to her parents, illegal immigrants from Mexico. Letty works in dead end jobs and has quite a drinking problem. The grandparents suddenly decide to return t
This book proves that you definitely cannot judge a book by it's cover. I loved Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers and I expected to have many of the same feelings for this book AND it has such a beautiful cover! However, I was sorely disappointed. From the first pages with the descriptions of the bird feathers and the art I felt myself drifting away from the story. I immediately didn't like Letty, the main character and mother to Alex and Luna. In the opening of the book she leaves h ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: goodreads
As I started to read the opening scenes and chapters, I was thinking -- who are these crazy people and why are they doing these outrageous things? But the voice and style of "The Language of Flowers" resonated through the paragraphs as I kept reading, hoping to get to the turning point. Finally, it came and the real story began.

This story of family, relationships, and trust also illustrates some of the current hot button social issues we are seeing in today's headlines. It's a very interesting p
Shawna Briseno
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ARC provided by NetGalley:
A beautifully written story, full of folk lore and rich in cultural references. This is a story of young love and loss, survival and moving on. As a teen mother, Letty distanced herself from her young children, instead letting her mother raise them. But when her parents decide to return to Mexico, Letty and the kids are left to survive on their own, both physically and emotionally. Letty must find her way to being a parent while at the same time struggling to make ends
I really loved Vanessa Diffenbaugh's earlier novel, The Language of Flowers so I was so happy to see that she was coming out with a new novel! This one comes out on August 18th and I definitely recommend that you pick this one up!

This is a very different novel from her previous novel. We Never Asked for Wings focuses on motherhood, family, immigration and the American dream. I found it to be a really fascinating look at these things and it grabbed me right away. Diffenbaugh is definitely a great
Diane Yannick
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was a big fan of The Language of Flowers so jumped right on this new one. I was not disappointed. I just love the way Vanessa Diffenbaugh writes and seamlessly weaves folklore into her stories. She begins the book with this borrowed passage from a Himalayan legend:

..."there are beautiful white birds
that live completely in flight.
They are born in the air,
must learn to fly before falling
and die also in their flying.
Maybe you have been born
Into such a life
with the bottom dropping out."

Her charac
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
4.25 stars!

Migrating birds reorient themselves at sunset. The exact reason is unknown, but at twilight, just when the sun drops beyond the horizon line, birds flying in the wrong direction correct their flight paths all at once.

2 years ago, I read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and I loved it. I was thrilled to receive an ARC of Diffenbaugh's second book, We Never Asked for Wings. I was not disappointed.

I love this author's style! She has the ability to make you fall in love
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like "The Language of Flowers", this book is exceptional. Letty is full of flaws, and watching her climb out of her pile of regrets, learning to care for and love her children, and herself, was truly an emotional ride. These characters were not just "well developed", they were REAL. Each and every one, from the tiny Luna to Carmela, the illegal immigrant. Alex was an inspirational young man, and his budding relationship with his father was really heartwarming. This book was not all sunshine and ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the story. I liked the characters. I liked the background immigration issues, but it wasn't as good as The Language of Flowers. It seemed a little too easy and Letty could have been more complex. I also didn't love that she needed men to step into the rescue -- it felt too romance for me. Good not great.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful story of young love.
I enjoyed the book and did not want to put it down.
I highly recommend this one.
4.5 stars

It must be a daunting task to follow on from the success of a first novel like The Language of Flowers (which I adored beyond words.) Blood, sweat and tears were obviously poured into this story, you can feel it. Wings may not have quite the same charm as flowers but it's quirky with Diffenbaugh's trademark beautiful prose and take, on timely social issues. I couldn't put it down.

When Letty's undocumented parents abruptly return to Mexico, 33 year old Letty Espinosa finally steps up to
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Letty Espinoza took off in her car to stop her mother from going to Mexico, she had left behind her two children, alone in the apartment.

Hers had truly been an act of desperation. She had given birth to her fifteen-year-old son Alex when she was just a teenager, and her mother, Maria Elena, had taken over the responsibility of raising him. Letty worked three jobs to support the family, and when she had her second child, Luna, now six, she had hoped to try again to be a parent. But it was to
Karen R
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
In reading the acknowledgements, it was revealed that author Vanessa Diffenbaugh had great difficulty writing this, her second book. Could she match the success of her first, The Language of Flowers? She spent arduous hours writing and researching, almost giving up on this novel that deals with some tough issues. Her hard work paid off. It is a heartrending story of desperation, hope, love and resilience.

Vanessa exposes the prejudices of poor Hispanic families who are struggling to make a better
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book started out making me angry. Letty had left her children alone and I start the book upset with her. This is the story of an immigrant family, their ties to Mexico and the immigration issues that keep them from becoming what they could be otherwise. It is a story of character growth and coming of age under difficult circumstances. I totally fell in love with the characters, especially Alex who shouldered so much responsibility. I loved the book - it touched me. I loved the characters an ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts & opinions.

It would be hard to follow up such an incredible book like The Language of Flowers and I think this was a valiant effort, although it might be missing some of that charm of the author's first book. This book is beautiful in its own way though and it reminded me a lot of, "The Same Sky," as it tackles the issue of illegal immigration and two sweet kids neglected by their alcoholic mother, struggling with poverty and p

I have to start out by saying how much I loved this cover. Its so attractive and appertaining to the story inside.

I also wondered how the author came up with the title, I now know.

Never having read or heard of Vanessa Diffenbaugh I was eager to discover her type of writing style and I have to say, its a way that I love, and easy to grasp and take hold of the story and its plot right away.

The opening chapters give a great full on "pull you in" and "I need to read more" kind of way.

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Oregon Public Lib...: We Never Asked for Wings [June 2019] 1 2 May 16, 2019 04:24PM  
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The trailer for We Never Asked for Wings is UP! 3 41 Jan 15, 2016 02:37AM  

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VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After graduating from Stanford University, she worked in the non-profit sector, teaching art and technology to youth in low-income communities. Following the success of her debut novel, The Language of Flowers, she co-founded Camellia Network (now Lifeset Network), a non-profit whose mission is to connect every youth ag ...more

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