The Leavers by Lisa Ko
“It was a funny thing, forgiveness. You could spend years being angry with someone and then realize you no longer felt the same, that your usual mode of thinking had slipped away when you weren’t noticing. He could see, in the flash of worry in his mother’s face as she waited for his reply, like he had heard in Kay and Peter’s shaking voices when they said good-bye to him earlier that his fear of being unwanted had dissipated. Because Mama – and Kay, and Peter – were trying to convince him that they were deserving of his love, not the other way around.” I really can't think of anything that I have read lately that has been this relevant to what is currently happening in our country and that so skillfully offers an unflinching examination of such tender and yet hot button topics as immigration, adoption, family, and belonging. Lisa Ko's book The Leavers, packs a powerful punch and is masterfully executed. It will break your heart and put it back together and I am just in awe that this is a debut novel. Many thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
Good Reads Synopsis:
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.