Hi, Hello, Hey!
Have you ever read a book that surprised you?
You picked it up and had a kinda ‘meh’ feeling and then before you know it, you’re greedily eating it all up in one sitting.
The Leavers was that kinda book for me.
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.
This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.
This book is seriously written well. The descriptions, the feelings thread into every sentence. It grips you, makes you take notice of what’s being said, what the characters are feeling and what they’re going through.
The Leavers takes place in two different places; America and China. Through different times; the past and current events. And with two different points of view, Deming (or Daniel) predominantly, but with chapters from his mum’s (Polly) point of view.
The gist of the story: Deming lives with his Mum, ‘Step-dad’, ‘Aunt’ and ‘Cousin’ in a cramped flat in New York. One day his mum leaves for work and never comes home. Weeks later, Deming’s step-father leaves and Deming is put into foster care and they change his name to Daniel. Fast forward a good few years and Daniel is obsessed with music and not so much with school, to the dismay of his foster-parents. He also has a bit of a gambling habit, so all in all, his life is in a bit of turmoil. Out of the blue, his cousin get’s in touch about his missing mum and Daniel goes on a journey to find out what happened many years before, all whilst finding his own path.
This book covers immigration into America and the working and living conditions for the immigrants. Daniel, for example, is subject to this all through his schooling and we see how this affects him as the book goes on.
It’s lovely to find a new author or a book that takes you completely by surprise, and you really enjoy it. Once I read the first few chapters, I rushed to the end, wanting to see what would happen and if any more doorways to the past would be opened.
I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so I’m glad that it ends well. Loose-ends have been tied and readers leave the characters in a better place.
Be sure to follow along with the rest of #TheLeavers blog tour on Twitter and do check the book out – it’s a really good read!