the leavers

31318368_10156592377218392_8885773605795790848_nThe Leavers by Lisa Ko is about a mother and her son and what brings them together and tears them apart.

When Deming Guo was 11, his Chinese immigrant mother, left for work at a nail salon and never returned home. In alternating narratives, this heart-wrenching literary novel tells both sides of their stories.

This novel is also about immigration, belonging in a foreign place, figuring out who you are and who you want to be and what it means to have a family.

After his mother’s disappearance, Deming Guo is adopted by a white family, Peter and Kay Wilkerson, and given the new identity of Daniel Wilkerson. Daniel struggles with the loss of his mother and the other people he considered his family. He had lost so much and he was lost himself and could never bring himself to fully accept the love his adoptive parents tried to give him. He kept everyone at arm’s length because he was scared they would disappear. He felt like a stranger and was always fearful and on edge, never feeling like he belonged anywhere.

Daniel really struggles with himself. He goes to school for a while and quits, goes back, quits again. He joins a band and quits. He drifts around from place to place torn between his two identities (Daniel and Deming), never knowing who he really is or who he should be.

Later in the book we learn what happened to his mother. Will he be able to forgive her for abandoning him? My book club didn’t care for this book. It has won a lot of literary awards, but I also felt like it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. Still, it provides a heart-breaking look into the world of immigrants and the battles they must face.


the wife between us

30074880_10156535437693392_252904516_o.jpgThe Wife Between Us was not as spectacular as I thought it would be. It was a good read, but I didn’t think it was as good as some of the others in this genre. I just hate it when books don’t live up to the hype. Maybe if I hadn’t been expecting something great, I would feel differently.

The book has a very unreliable narrator. Vanessa obviously has some issues with drinking, anxiety and obsession. She is obsessed with the woman her ex-husband is marrying. Nellie is slowing realizing her husband isn’t the person she thought he was. As the book progresses, it is hard to determine who the psychopath really is and who, if anyone, is the sane person.   There were several plot twists. I didn’t find the book to be that thrilling, but I did read to the end because I did want to know what was really going on. If you like a light suspenseful read, then give this book a try. If you are expecting something spectacular, you may be disappointed.