Thursday 18 June 2015

Book Review, We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


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, now fifteen, and Luna, 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.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

My Musings

The story begins within a fractured framework jumping from a woman driving away from her young children to the young children desperately fending for themselves alone. Why is she abandoning them? Where is she going? Why does she believe she is a bad mother? Will her children survive? 

All the pieces  fall into place like birds coming together for migration. Feathers and birds pepper the story with symbolism similar to flowers in Diffenbaugh's first beautiful novel The Language of Flowers,  but in a more spiritual, fleeting way. 

We see Letty  struggle to become a fit mother, the decisions she has made , the effect these have on her children especially her 15 year old son, Alex. Both go through rites of passage and come of age helped by some lovable characters. The story draws your emotions as they struggle to survive poverty and the humility and unfairness it brings but also importantly how it can bring out kindness.

Letty also has to pick between old and new loves while her son discovers first love and the pitfalls of his own naivity. It is a captivating read that speaks of the transience of life and relationships. To live and appreciate those special moments on our journey through life and how to keep going no matter what. It is a poignant tale of family and friendship that was an engrossing and memorable read and a must read for Diffenbaugh fans. 

It took me on a journey and even when the book ended you knew her characters were still on their own journeys of discovery and that in itself was a fitting and satisfying end. 

Lyrical and emotive writing with a wonderfully colorful set of characters. A great read and a good choice for a book group with lots to talk about.

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