Thursday, July 9, 2015

We Never Asked For Wings

What I love about Vanessa Diffenbaugh's books is that she exposes me to people who could be living next door or just down the street, people I'd likely never meet or know.

My book club read her first novel, The Language of Flowers, which was a great book which offered up a lot of discussion. I found it interesting to read at the end of this novel Diffenbaugh's struggle with writing the dreaded second book. In my opinion, her efforts shine through another great story of struggles overcome and the triumph of the human spirit.

Set in southern California, the novel deals with issues of illegal immigration, motherhood, ramifications from teen/young pregnancy, class struggles, family, and more. Diffenbaugh draws well-defined characters who draw you in from the get-go. At the beginning I thought the main character, Letty Espinosa, was a self-centered person who had managed to get herself pregnant by two separate men and foisted her kids off onto her mother to raise so she could keep on living life on her own terms. What I discovered, however, was a person who had fewer choices because of the decisions she had made as a young person (i.e. getting pregnant at 18 and not wanting her boyfriend to feel obligated or trapped, she did not tell him about the child.) She was not unwilling to raise her children; she was simply young, afraid, inexperienced, and had a mother willing to step in and help. (Unlike her counterpart in the story, Carmen, who had no support system and even fewer choices as an illegal immigrant.)

If you are looking for a book with great characters and a lot of potential talking points for discussion, you will definitely want to get your hands on We Never Asked For Wings. It will give you pause to consider the people around you in a new light and with more compassion. For that, I say thanks Vanessa!

I received an Advance Reader Copy of Diffenbaugh's novel from Shelf Awareness in exchange for this review. Thank you!

From the Publisher . . .

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.

About the Author . . .

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Language of Flowers, which was translated into more than forty languages. A mother of four, she lives with her husband in Monterey, California. In addition to being a writer, Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a passionate foster care advocate and sits on the board of Youth Villages, where she supports their mission to radically improve outcomes for America’s most vulnerable children and families.

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