Monday, August 17, 2015

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Standalone
320 p.
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Published: 8/18/15
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
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 thoughts:
I don't read too many contemporaries, and when I do I often look for those with a specific cultural perspective or something to do with creativity (art, music, etc). This one had both. While the art aspect was really more in the background it did give a constant in which the characters revolved. The art was Letty's father's feather work which he turned into artwork mosaics. This isn't a story about art, but about finding one's own way through the confines and expressions of our past and our parent's past.

The cultural aspect was one of illegal immigration. While people often have strong opinions on this subject, you rarely hear it with any real knowledge of the situation. While this book tackles it, it does not give you a side to adhere, but a perspective to consider. Again, this was important but not as important as the characters growth into maturity.

I give this book 4 stars. It seems well researched and I love how all characters achieved growth. All of the characters had real problems they all thought they couldn't conquer, but knew the only way was forward and so chose that option. I recommend it to those that enjoy contemporary stories as well as those that enjoy chick lit. I think it would work equally well for those genres.

28 comments:

  1. It's nice to have something different like that. I like one from time to time too.

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    1. Yes, I think I just want something different from time to time. :)

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  2. What a great review. I so agree with your comment that 'While people often have strong opinions on this subject, you rarely hear it with any real knowledge of the situation'.

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    1. What is sad is when it is policy makers that have no idea on what they are deciding...

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  3. Great review! Sometimes it's nice to break up your reading with something unusual.

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  4. Yay for character growth! This sounds like it would make a good book club read Melissa, I'm going to pass it on to my mother in law for her group:)

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    1. I hope she enjoys it. I'd love to know what she thinks.

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  5. Immigration is such a popular subject these days and I'm glad it was handled well here. I don't read much contemporary either, but when I do, I'm just like you, I want it to be worth my while and not just run of the mill and forgettable.

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    1. I also tend to gravitate toward something creative. This one had a bit of art in the background. :)

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  6. Occasionally I like to read out of my box too. Though this probably wouldn't work for me--I am glad it worked for you :)

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    1. It might actually. It's not too different than some of the contemps you've read.

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  7. "While this book tackles it, it does not give you a side to adhere, but a perspective to consider. "

    I like the sound of that!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Yes, I enjoyed that as well. I love that it helps you to think. :)

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  8. Seems like an interesting one, good review indeed.

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  9. Glad this was so well researched and that it worked. Wonderful review!

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  10. I tried to read one of her books, but it was meh, maybe this one would be better

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    1. It seemed well done. Now I'm curious as to which one you read. LOL

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  11. This sounds pretty heavy but I think I might like it!

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    1. It really doesn't feel heavy. You might enjoy it.

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  12. I actually love books like this and used to read A LOT of them, but it kind of shifted with blogging. This is definitely one I'd read.

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  13. I've been enjoying a lot of adult contemporary work in this past year so I'm always eager to get new recommendations. Thanks for this one, Melissa--will have to check it out! :)

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  14. I love "daring" books like this. Authors who takes on controversial social issues and make it "human" are the best IMO.

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  15. I mix this type of read in from time to time, and this does sound like it was enjoyable and realistic.

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  16. Yeah, I don't do contemporary often either. This sounds like a nice story.

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  17. I have this on my TBR...hope to get to it soon. Glad to see that you enjoyed it!

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