The Leavers

The Leavers

A Novel

eBook - 2017
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"There was a time I would have called Lisa Ko's novel beautifully written, ambitious, and moving, and all of that is true, but it's more than that now: if you want to understand a forgotten and essential part of the world we live in, The Leavers is required reading." --Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth Lisa Ko's powerful debut, The Leavers, is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice. 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 heartwrenching 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. Lisa Ko's fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Apogee Journal, Narrative, Copper Nickel, the Asian Pacific American Journal, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Writers OMI at Ledig House, the Jerome Foundation, and Blue Mountain Center, among others. She was born in New York City, where she now lives. Visit her at lisa-ko.com.
Publisher: [S.l.] : Algonquin Books, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781616207137
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: 3M Cloud Library

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MaggieBrooklyn
Jul 09, 2018

I loved this story of a mom and her son, and all the challenges and difficult choices they both had to make. Polly is just trying to make a better life for herself, and despite her struggles and hardships, she maintains a strong and resilient character. Though Polly and the many friends she makes on her journey, the author shows us the many layers, good and bad, of immigrant culture. In the current political environment, illegal immigrants are seen by some in a very negative light--as criminals, rapists, people wanting to sponge off the US government. But how can we fault people for wanting a better life for themselves and their families?

The Leavers tells the story of Polly, the mom, and her life journey as a young girl from a poor village, then an immigrant in New York, then a businesswoman in China. It also tells the story of her American-born son, who at 11 years old got left behind when Polly got deported and remained unanchored, despite being adopted and well cared-for by a nice white couple in upstate New York. Both mom and son were scarred for life by her capture and deportation, and this is the story of how they learned to live with themselves and their dual identities as Chinese and American.

I highly recommend this book!

m
Mya614
Apr 01, 2018

Loved this book, although the first couple chapters was hard for me to get into. It pulls with your emotions of betrayal, abandonment, adoption, culture etc.

b
brangwinn
Feb 13, 2018

This story is so relevant for today. If you have no future in your native land, and come to the US illegally, you end up living a shadow life. You can’t expect to have much of a future. When Polly leaves China for what she hopes will be a better life in New York City for her and her unborn son, she finds it’s a heck of a hard climb to survive. When she is caught by INS she is sent back to China, and her son eventually ends up being adopted. What happens to the two of them creates a drama that many people are facing.

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wendyjotaylor
Jan 04, 2018

What confusion Ms. Ko has about matching technology to actual timeline. It is unbelievable that her editors did not pick up on this!!!

On page 179 Polly "takes out her phone to call Yi Ba" Unfortunate that Ms. Ko has assigned a cell phone to make the call when there were no cell phones 20 years ago. Hard to understand? Believe it or not, kids. There were NO CELL PHONE 20 YEARS AGO.. So.. how would our heroine make a call to China?? Pay phones were still around. Nobody could record the twin towers falling in NYC when it happened even 17 years ago. Why? No cell phones yet and certainly no cell phones with cameras.

So, if Ms. Ko wants to continue her narrative about Daniel's Mom phoning Grandfather in China to find out he has died of a heart attack? It was from a land line or a pay phone. If she whipped out her cell phone, it would have weighed about 3 lbs. They were in their infancy at that point.

Good try, though. Good try.

So read this book with a grain of made up salt. It does not follow any actual timeline.

l
laphampeak
Oct 29, 2017

Daniel, Deming Guo, was adopted by an American couple under circumstances the reader will much later find out. In the meantime Daniel's life unfolds as he remembers his childhood and those who helped shape his adult life. The author tells her story by taking us deeply into the complexities of an immigrant and their expectations, dreams, and ability to maintain family.
At times I skimmed when the author stayed too long in a situation but overall I found the novel rich in detail and I was easily drawn in.

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lukasevansherman
Oct 03, 2017

Impressive and moving debut novel about a mother and son who are separated. The novel begins with the disappearance of a young Chinese-American's mother, who is in the country illegally. He has no idea what's happened to her and is adopted by a white couple who give him an American name. The novel shifts between the mother's and the son's point of view and takes place over many years and in two countries (China and America). It is a book that feels very much of the moment.

ArapahoeMarina Sep 18, 2017

Ko takes us behind the headlines about ICE raids and deportation to flesh out a moving and mournful tale of a son growing up without a mother, her mystery a constant, gnawing puzzle that colors his whole life.

ArapahoeAnnaL Aug 29, 2017

This is a compelling and sensitive story of a Chinese immigrant and her son. Life becomes complicated and you feel for the boy and eventually for his mother as the story unfolds.

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lgold08540
Jun 19, 2017

please don't throw tomatoes at me. i could not sympathize with the protagonist at all; at times, i wanted to smack him and say grow up already!

PimaLib_LoisM Jun 09, 2017

The Leavers is one of the best books I've read this year. Deming Guo struggles to find his true identity and sense of belonging after growing up in both New York City and Fouzhou, China. His life at age 6 falls apart when his mother leaves for work at a nail salon and never returns. Deming is adopted by an Anglo couple who are professors at a university, and is renamed Daniel Wilkerson. The story alternates between Deming and his mother's perspectives, and keeps the reader enthralled until the end, when we find out the real story behind why Deming's mother left him.

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Mya614
Apr 01, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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