“Ko’s powerful debut novel was a National Book Award finalist. A piercing tale of immigration, ‘The Leavers’ tells the story of a young boy seemingly abandoned by his Chinese immigrant mother.”
Featured in LA Times’ Best Non-Fiction Books of 2017.
“The Leavers is plotted like a good mystery, but that is not really the point. Instead, it’s a heartbreaking account of the terrible circumstances that would cause a mother to abandon her son.”
Featured in NPR’s Book Concierge Great Reads of 2017.
National Book Award Finalist for 2017, a novel by Lisa Ko was named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and Electric Literature.
Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth gives the powerful debut novel a resounding reviews:
“There was a time I would have called Lisa Ko’s novel beautifully written, ambitious, and moving, and all of that is true, but it’s more than that now: if you want to understand a forgotten and essential part of the world we live in, The Leavers is required reading.”
The book was also the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.
The story begins with Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, going to her job at a nail salon one morning. The struggling single mother is forced to make one heart wrenching choice after another. She is an undocumented Chinese immigrant and when she never comes back home, no one can find any trace of her.
Deming is only eleven years and with his mother gone, he is left orphaned and grieving.
Luckily, he is eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors and moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate. He is renamed Daniel Wilkinson by his new family.
Dislocated from all that he has ever known, Daniel struggles to adapt and leave his past behind him.
This story tells how the young man come into his own after everything he loves has been taken away as well as how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.
O, The Oprah Magazine gave its review of this book, saying, “Here is imperative reading: a vivid fictional exploration of what it means to belong and what it feels like when you don’t . . . Ko gives us an unsparing portrait of the resilience and grit it takes to risk everything to break free of tradition and start over in a foreign land.”