The Leavers Books review, special features and comparisons
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published: May 2nd 2017 by Algonquin Books
Original Title: The Leavers
ISBN: 1616206888 (ISBN13: 9781616206888)
Edition Language: English
Setting: New York State (United States)
Literary Awards: National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (2017), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction & for Debut Goodreads Author (2017), PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (2016), Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (2018)
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.
“Everyone had stories they told themselves to get through the days.”
“It was that kind of mindfu**: to be too visible and invisible at the same time, in the ways it mattered the most.”
“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.”
“No matter how tired I was, I always felt more awake when I walked.”
“Never had there been a time when sound, color, and feeling hadn’t been intertwined, when a dirty, rolling bass line hadn’t induced violets that suffused him with thick contentment, when the shades of certain chords sliding up to one another hadn’t produced dusty pastels that made him feel like he was cupping a tiny, golden bird. It wasn’t just music but also rumbling trains and rainstorms, occasional voices, a collective din. Colors and textures appeared in front of him, bouncing in time to the rhythm, or he’d get a flash of color in his mind, an automatic sensation of a tone, innate as breathing.”