The Leavers by Lisa Ko

The Leavers

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 h...

Title:The Leavers
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1616206888
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:352 pages

The Leavers Reviews

  • Angela M

    Imagine you're a 17 year old girl named Peilan who becomes Polly, and you've come come to the US from China seeking a better life . And oh by the way you're pregnant and here illegally, owing a loan shark $50,000. You have to work long hours in awful working conditions to scrape enough for the payments. You have to bring your infant son to work with you because there is no one to care for him. There are some things that happen in this story that were hard to relate to but then this immigrant exp

    Imagine you're a 17 year old girl named Peilan who becomes Polly, and you've come come to the US from China seeking a better life . And oh by the way you're pregnant and here illegally, owing a loan shark $50,000. You have to work long hours in awful working conditions to scrape enough for the payments. You have to bring your infant son to work with you because there is no one to care for him. There are some things that happen in this story that were hard to relate to but then this immigrant experience is so far removed from what I know. This story was an eye opener for sure.

    Imagine you are a young man named Daniel who was born in Chinatown in Manhattan, sent when he was one year old to live with his grandfather in a village in China and then sent back to his mother at six. That was when he was Deming before his mother disappears when he is eleven. It's been ten years since Peilan has disappeared and Deming is a college student struggling with being abandoned even though adopted. He struggles with his identity, with a gambling addiction, what to do with his life . He remembers when he was with his mother and doesn't understand why she left. At least he has his music. While I'm not a fan of hard rock, it is comforting to know that Deming's music is something he can hold on to . " He would learn how to create music, matching tones to shades to feelings and translating them back to melody. ...He'd craft songs that conveyed exactly what he wanted to say....the rest of the world heard only sound, and that would leave him with lingering sadness...".

    The story is told from their two points points of view, a third person narrative from Deming's perspective and then a first person narrative by his mother. The common thread is their love for each other and their memories of each other. This is a sad story in many ways depicting the separation of a mother and child. It isn't until later in the story that we learn what happened to Peilan. I not going to say much more about the plot. Suffice it to say, this is a moving view of immigrants, a timely one. Lisa Ko does a good job of helping us imagine these lives. A striking debut, recognized by Barbara Kingsolver as the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction as a novel that addresses social injustice.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Algonquin Books through Edelweiss.

  • Suzanne Leopold

    Deming Guo is a fifth grader living with his mother Polly in the Bronx. Polly is an illegal immigrant who supports them by working at a nearby nail salon. Together, they live in an apartment with her boyfriend and his family. One day, Polly does not return home from work and no one can find her.

    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.

    Deming Guo is a fifth grader living with his mother Polly in the Bronx. Polly is an illegal immigrant who supports them by working at a nearby nail salon. Together, they live in an apartment with her boyfriend and his family. One day, Polly does not return home from work and no one can find her.

    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. He is a disappointment to his adoptive parents who have continued to provide support and encouragement throughout the years. He has believed throughout his life that his mother has abandoned him and this has shaped his behavior. This story evolves into the mystery regarding his mother's disappearance and how it has haunted his life.

    The depiction of the emotional connection between mother and child is aided by the the flashbacks of Deming’s and Polly’s life prior to her disappearance. Points of view swap between both characters and enhances the flow of the book. The Leavers also provides readers with glimpses of the hardships faced by immigrants trying to assimilate to a new country.

    This is a debut novel by the author. I believe that we will be hearing a lot more about this book as it gets closer to the 2017 release date.

    Giveaway on my blog until 4/19

  • Carol

    With sincere gratitude I thank Algonquin Books, Annie Mazes of Workman Publishing, the author, Lisa Ko, and Edelweiss for providing an e-galley of

    for my enjoyment and review.

    A special shout-out to Northshire Bookstore and Tracy Davies, Events Manager for bringing Kisa Ko to

    in Manchester, Vermont.

    I usually format my reviews with

    ,

    , and

    . This is difficult to do with galleys as the publisher asks that passages not be quoted, as the finished work

    With sincere gratitude I thank Algonquin Books, Annie Mazes of Workman Publishing, the author, Lisa Ko, and Edelweiss for providing an e-galley of

    for my enjoyment and review.

    A special shout-out to Northshire Bookstore and Tracy Davies, Events Manager for bringing Kisa Ko to

    in Manchester, Vermont.

    I usually format my reviews with

    ,

    , and

    . This is difficult to do with galleys as the publisher asks that passages not be quoted, as the finished work may be different.

    Lisa Ko begins her novel in which the first sentence states a fact, yet presents a question that hooks this reader. Deming Guo, a young Chinese boy is living in a New York City apartment with his mother, her boyfriend, the boyfriend’s sister and her son. One day Peilan (Polly) Guo does not come home from work. Having mentioned a plan to seek employment in Florida, Deming is certain this is where she has gone and will soon be home. But why didn’t she tell him she was leaving? As days turn into years, the course of Deming’s life changes in ways we might not suspect. What follows is an emotionally wrought exploration of leaving and just what that means.

    It is hard to believe that this is Lisa Ko’s debut work as it is pitch perfect. It is a social and cultural commentary for our time, and deserving of the 2016 Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

    As I read

    it brought to mind the leaves on trees; they come and go without consent, just as Ko’s characters do.

    Leavers is a winner and bound to be a most beloved book of 2017. It hits the stand May 2, 2017. Don’t miss it.

  • Debbie

    Damn damn damn spoilers! Even though the blurb and reviews don’t come out and say exactly what happened, a couple of buzz words kept loudly buzzing around in my head. Unfortunately, they landed on the exact right spot. Bingo! I figured out what had happened almost as soon as the story started. It spoiled the mystery, that’s for sure.

    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 als

    Damn damn damn spoilers! Even though the blurb and reviews don’t come out and say exactly what happened, a couple of buzz words kept loudly buzzing around in my head. Unfortunately, they landed on the exact right spot. Bingo! I figured out what had happened almost as soon as the story started. It spoiled the mystery, that’s for sure.

    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 also a story about his mom, who disappears when Deming is eleven. I love it when a book lets me peek into lives that are so different from mine. Oh god, that sounds so sweet and touristy. Sure, I appreciate, like a detached but curious student of anthropology, a fine peeky-peek into their every-day lives. But way more important is the shiver I feel when I sternly glare at some atrocities, some rugged truths, they faced. I’ll stay vague here, on purpose, so don't ask. I’m dying to talk about this book—so please read it soon!

    The story makes you think about a lot of things—what home means, what belonging to a tribe means, how it feels to try to become part of another tribe, how it feels to be separated from those you love. Deming had such a rough deal. I can imagine how sad and hard it was for him to be constantly wondering where his mother had gone, and why. Did she abandon him because she didn’t love him? Did she get killed? The uncertainty was there, torturing him, for a long time.

    Daniel faces some heavy stuff—the loss of a mother, the oddness and awkwardness of being adopted, and guilt over not getting his act together. And of course confusion over who he was, where he was going, what he wanted to do. Throughout most of the story, he’s sad, lonely, and insecure. He feels alienated. Could anyone blame him, though, since his mom disappeared out of thin air and he was suddenly thrown into a whole different culture?

    One drawback—I didn’t relate to or particularly like Deming or his mother. They both seemed stoical, which made me feel stoical and detached in return. Still, there were well-drawn and complex characters. I don’t have to love the characters to love the book.

    Deming’s life was pretty quiet, but his mother’s life, now that’s a different story. Her life had been riveting and I was completely drawn in. I had pretty strong emotions about her, and they weren’t all positive. I’m not proud to say it but I was constantly judging how good a mother she had been. At the same time, I felt so deeply for all she had to endure, and I felt really sick about the brutal unfairness she faced. As the story progressed, I started to understand her choices and cut her some slack. Her powerful story isn’t told until the last part of the book, though, so I had to spend most of my time hanging out with Deming. Structurally, it makes perfect sense to have the mom’s story at the end. I just wish I had cared more about Deming.

    The language is straightforward. Maybe a bit too much description, but it’s done well so I didn’t get bored. There are super nice metaphors throughout, though there was one time the author went overboard. She uses multiple metaphors to describe a view of the city. I had to construe too many disparate images in my mind. Seriously, she compared things to masking tape, a greeting card, and a band of mismatched toys all in one paragraph. My mind was jumping all over the place! Using just one metaphor would have been a lot stronger. The paragraph seemed sophomoric, like an exercise you’d have in a creative writing class. Maybe the author was over-enjoying her skill of being able to describe things in a super interesting way. Kill your darlings, I want to whisper to the author, it will be okay. Luckily I only experienced (or tuned in on?) the metaphor madness that one time.

    I loved that the story mostly took place in New York City (which might be my favorite story locale ever), and I was fascinated when the story moved to China.

    I recently read and enjoyed the short-story collection,

    . Although the stories have a different feel and focus, that book is similar to this one in that it’s about Asians coming to America. Both books are excellent.

    I purposely tried here to be plenty vague about the plot; I don’t want to spoil it for you. But I will say that this is a really good book that you’ll want to get your hands on. It’s hard to believe this is a debut, but it’s not hard to believe it has already won an award.

    Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

    P.S. Does the title bother anyone else? Who has ever heard of leavers? I know it’s a real word, but it sort of sounds made up. Plus I just don’t even like the sound of it . . .

  • Elyse

    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 about this story - Great Reviews-- but I THOUGHT I HAD READ ENOUGH DEBUT NOVELS ABOUT IMMIGRANTS- legal 'or' illegal!!!

    WHAT ELSE WAS I POSSIBLY GOING TO LEARN? WHAT COULD I *REALLY* TAKE AWAKE FROM THIS BOO

    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 about this story - Great Reviews-- but I THOUGHT I HAD READ ENOUGH DEBUT NOVELS ABOUT IMMIGRANTS- legal 'or' illegal!!!

    WHAT ELSE WAS I POSSIBLY GOING TO LEARN? WHAT COULD I *REALLY* TAKE AWAKE FROM THIS BOOK THAT I HAVEN'T FROM EVERY OTHER WITH SIMILAR THEMES OF HARDSHIPS - DEBT- MEAGER EXISTENCE- STRUGGLES.....unraveling of The American Dream??? Would I end up just feeling sad - and that life is frickin unfair? -- and VERY HARD for some people??? Or maybe -- ( oh God, just maybe one of these books WILL be THE BOOK THAT MAKES THE POWERFUL GLOBAL SHIFTING DIFFERENCE?)......

    Well, I DID SHIFT!!! I AM DIFFERENT than when I started this novel. I hope my local book club picks 'Lisa Ko's, "The Leavers", for one of our monthly picks. This novel calls for some serious- worthy discussions!!!!

    First off -- the storytelling is powerful and consistently compelling. Mother and son are both living between two worlds --- there is hardship and triumph- heartbreak and love.

    There are sooo many things I want to talk about in this novel - I honestly don't know where to begin -

    EVERY CHARACTER is so vivid - real - so fully developed-- we could talk about each 'one' of them -in length from many perspectives. Pelican, for example, is a fascinating woman -restless spirit-independent thinker -liked to curse -could hold a firece grudge. Leon reminded me of a man that tried so hard to please everyone -

    Deming was my hero in ways. No kid was 'left' more. He grows up as Daniel with new parents Peter and Kate.... ( who have their own issues about parenting).

    All the supporting characters.....Michael - Roland - Angel - Vivian - etc. add to this story and are also in your thoughts.

    It's impossible to say all I want to say in this review-- so I'm going to add a 'few' things that have changed me PERSONALLY FOREVER.....

    Rather than tell about the details of this story....( I'm guessing you can find that in other reviews).....I going to share a few GUT WRENCHING images that I've taken away:

    NOBODY comes to America hoping to pick gao gao out of strangers toes and scraping calluses the size of a nose off of the heel of a woman's heel..... ONLY TO GET A SHIT TIP!!!!!

    NOBODY SHOULD HAVE TO WORK A 6 HOUR SHIFT IN A FACTORY WITHOUT A BREAK!!!

    I WILL NEVER *EVER* SEE A NAIL SALON THE SAME WAY AGAIN AFTER READING THIS BOOK!

    WORKING IN A SLAUGHTERHOUSE has got to be one of the worse jobs on the planet -- on so many levels: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

    Deming, born in Manhattan, New York, was sent to Minjjang, China, to live with his grandfather for the first six years of his life. Why did Peilan, his undocumented mother stay in America? Why not go back to China with her son where she could have family support raising her son without the separation?

    I HOPE A MOVIE IS MADE FROM THIS BOOK!!!!! I can see it!!!

    Exquisitely written ......deeply human meditation on despair, loss, love, immigration, identity, diversity, hope, human longings, consequences, .......multilayered and deeply felt!!!!

    Thank You Netgalley, Algonquin Books, and Lisa Ko

  • Larry H
  • Susanne Strong

    5 Stars.

    "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, be

    5 Stars.

    "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, best friends. They lived in an apartment with Polly's boyfriend Leon, his sister Vivian and her son, Michael and they became an instant family. The day his mother failed to come home, everything changed. His life was taken away and all of a sudden, he was sent to live with Peter and Kay Wilkinson and he became Daniel Wilkinson. Peter and Kay tried to "Americanize" him. Thereafter, Daniel struggled to find himself and be accepted by his "parents."

    Polly Guo's history was a difficult one. Moving to New York, alone and pregnant, working menial jobs, while speaking very little English? Its hard to imagine.. yet it happens everyday. Her struggles were real. And she faced them alone.

    Every. Single. Character. in this book can identify with that.

    It's a story about letting go when doing so seems like an impossible feat. And last but not least, its a story about our hopes and our fears as well as loss and love and how we handle both.

    The characters are rich, well thought out, descriptive, beautiful. That's not to say that they are all perfect however, some are quite flawed. And well, Human. I listened to the audiobook (the narrator was phenomenal) and I will be buying the hardcover simply because I must have a copy of it for my bookshelf.

    I can't possibly recommend this novel highly enough. It might just be my favorite book of the year so far.

    Published on Goodreads and Amazon on 6.7.17.

  • Julie

    The Leavers by Lisa Ko is a 2017 Algonquin Books publication.

    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

    The Leavers by Lisa Ko is a 2017 Algonquin Books publication.

    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 couple who try their best to offer him a better life.

    After his adoption, Kay and Peter change his name to Daniel, completing his transformation into their environment. But, all the while, his mother’s fate haunts him. Had she simply abandoned him or did something terrible happen to her?

    There are many books about mothers and daughters, a relationship often fraught with various juxtapositions, but a bond between a mother and her son, is something we should explore and cheer on more often.

    In this case, Deming never knew his father, so his mother was his whole world. He struggles to adapt to his new life, bowing under pressure, developing a gambling problem, but finding relief through music.

    I don’t think it’s rocket science to conclude that Deming/Daniel’s unrest, his inability to settle in and focus is wrapped up in his lack of closure concerning his mother, and his struggle with the two sides of him, with his peace of mind remaining elusive.

    But, by the second part of the story, I began to understand there was more going on that what appears on the surface, shifting the focus onto the broken immigration system, giving Polly a chance to tell her side of the story. She too, struggles with a duality, trying to meld her past self with the woman and the life she has now.

    Kay and Peter are do gooders, patting themselves on the back for giving Daniel a new life when a younger child was what they would have preferred. Not only that, they project their ideals and perhaps unrealistic expectations onto Daniel, unable to understand his seeming lack of ambition.

    While, Kay and Peter aren’t necessarily bad people, they aren’t exactly warm and fuzzy either, and although they do put some effort into making him feel more comfortable in his mostly white surroundings, they are perhaps a little credulous.

    So, ultimately, there really are no bad guys, per se, except for struggles and consequences faced by immigrants, which of course makes this story especially poignant and relevant in this moment in time.

    There are some parts in the book that went on too long or went into too much detail, especially since it didn’t exactly add a lot to the relevance of the situation, and bordered on ‘filler’, but that’s really just a minor blip when compared with what I took away from the story.

    The novel is partly a mystery, since we have no idea what has become of Polly after her vanishing act, but it is mostly a story about the bond between a mother and son, the cause of the heartbreaking rip in their relationship, the resulting fall out, and the struggle to find one’s true identity.

    4 stars

Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.