Monday, 14 September 2015

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Contemporary Fiction, 9/10E)

10th September 2015, Mantle, 320 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Content: family drama, poverty, hardship, humour, tissues needed

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.

For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, fifteen, and Luna, just six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.

Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.

Nayu's thoughts
What drew me to this story is what kept me gripped: the fate of the children, how they reacted to their grandmother (and initially mother) leaving them, how they survived, how they somehow managed to become a real family. To begin with I didn't think much of Letty, after all, who has children but leaves them to be taken care of by their mother? However, the more I learned, the more I (sort of) understood why she acted a certain way. 

It was heartbreaking to read when she was really trying with a few situations, but due to petty issues (which were eventually overcome) she was temporarily barred from making a better life for herself. I shed a few tears throughout the book, the emotions leapt off the pages and into my heart. I was proud of Alex and Luna's resilience, how they learnt to adapt to each new situation, and were able to find normality in their strange but in reality normal lives. Being the older brother makes it natural for Alex to look out for his friends and help them do better, even if it isn't entirely legal and gets him into trouble for a while. It's amazing what people will do to improve their life.

 Find out more on Vanessa's website

Available at many bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles

Suggested read 
Another heart-tugging story involving a child and her mother is The Liar by Nora Roberts (Thriller, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


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