Winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction
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...more
Junior year of high school, he had seen a Chinese woman in the Littletown Mall. Thin, with permed hair, gripping plastic bags with the handles twisted around each other. She'd honed in; there was no hiding his face, and when she spoke he understood her Mandarin. She was lost. Could he help? She needed to make a phone call, find a bus. Her face was scared and anxious. Two teenage boys, pale and gangly, had watched and mimicked her accent, and Daniel had said, in English, "I can't speak Chinese."...more
It was only after I touched the hardback in my indi Book store -- silky smooth to touch... gorgeous vibrant orange color...stamped as an "Literary Award Winner"....did I ask myself, "what the hell is wrong with you?" Why was I hesitating reading this book? I knew about it - read a few things ...more
The Leavers by Lisa Ko is utterly exquisite. This book about two different people's struggle between doing what is right, what people want and expect them to do, and what they want to do, is tremendously moving and powerful. As the title suggests, it's both a story of those who leave and the effect on those who are left.
Deming Guo is 11 years old. He's being raised by his mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, and they live in a crowded Bronx apartment with Polly's boyfriend, his
Deming Guo was a young boy when one day, his mother disappeared. That morning, he went to school and she went to work. The difference? He came home.
"The Leavers" is a coming of age story about a Chinese American boy named Deming Guo (n/k/a Daniel Wilkinson). Deming had to grow up faster, and learn to shut off his feelings and thoughts in a way that no child ever should.
He and his mother Peilan (Polly) were always very close. They were, like two birds of a feather, two peas in a pod, ...more
But luckily this story isn’t primarily a mystery. It’s a well-written and interesting coming-of-age story about a Chinese-American kid, Deming (aka Daniel). It’s ...more
Timely, heartbreaking, and emotional.
Polly immigrates to the US from China and is raising her young son Deming, living with her boyfriend, Leon, his sister, Vivian, and her son, Michael. But, one day, after an argument, Polly leaves for work and disappears.
With no blood relatives, Deming finds himself at the mercy of Vivian, who says she can’t afford to keep him. However, he does end up in a good home, with Kay and Peter, an educated ...more
When Deming returns, Polly is still living in straitened circumstances and ...more
A special shout-out to Northshire Bookstore and Tracy Davies, Events Manager for bringing Kisa Ko to Booktopia 2017 in Manchester, Vermont.
I usually format my reviews with The Hook, The Line, and The Sinker. This is difficult to do with galleys as the publisher asks that passages not be quoted, as the finished work ...more
Ten years later, Deming is a college student named Daniel. He is struggling with life and has developed a gambling problem. He is uninterested in college, and his friends are tired of his indecisiveness. ...more
Thanks to my reading friends who strongly encouraged me to read The Leavers because I never tire of books on immigrant experiences. Forgive my idealism, but I believe this is one of those empathy-building/perspective-taking books you wish everyone would read. Being an immigrant in a foreign country is not easy for Peilan. She arrived in the United States young, pregnant, and owing an enormous debt. I don't want to give ...more
"I promise I'll never leave you."
Deming Guo/Daniel Wilkinson has never had much stability in his life. He was born in New York to an undocumented Chinese immigrant, but was sent to live with family in China when he was only one year old. He was sent back to New York to live with his mother when he turned six. Five years later, his mother disappears without a trace. Peilan/Polly Guo left for work one morning and never returned. At the age of eleven, the people he thought were his family place ...more
When Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett endorse a book I pay attention.
Lisa Ko’s debut novel is a book-full of many things. Among them, a mother/son relationship, the plight of undocumented immigrants and their children born in the United States with all rights and privileges of citizenship denied their parents, the search for personal identity and self-worth, foster parenting and adoption, skilled writing I very much appreciated—at times—and therein was also my problem with it.
The writing ...more
This is a story of family, community, and ...more
However, I felt by the end of the novel, there was a lot of repetition and I ...more
Peilan, fled China young and pregnant, in hopes of escaping the boy who impregnated her as well as the pregnancy, only to find she was a few weeks past 7 months and termination ...more
Lisa Ko's The Leavers is such a raw, honest read, a novel of alienation and identity, adoption and duality and what it means to be family, ...more
The novel is told from two points of view. We learn about Deming’s life in the Bronx where he lives in a small apartment with his mother, Peilan/Polly, her boyfriend Leon, his sister, Vivian, and her son, Michael. It is a hard life, his mother always struggling to make ...more
This story is sad and it’s a remarkably layered debut, but for me it lacked the haunting quality that allows a story to attach to ...more
It’s a heart-wrenching story, especially as the narrative unfolds and we learn the truth about what happened to Deming’s mother—who in his ...more
Catch a whiff of a bus that smells like feet, try not to breathe as you make your way up a street that reeks of 'flatulent exhaust' fumes. I love this type of writing, but I wasn't wild about the novel overall. Couldn't find my rhythm with the ...more
This was a mantra for one of the main characters, not only when he faced a crisis in his life, but whenever he began to trust someone. This tells you quite a bit about him and a running theme throughout this story of two people struggling to live the lives they were meant to live. Though on a broader scale, this is a timely and important book concerning the treatment of illegal immigrants in the US. It is also about the issue of robbing an adopted child of his ...more
On the surface, a story about a mother/son relationship. At its core-- a tense story about immigration and how often it tears families apart with no notice. Lisa Ko brilliantly creates an all too real story ...more
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