I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Published by Random House Publishing Group on August 18, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Literary
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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, fifteen, and Luna, just 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.
♦ We Never Asked for Wings really pissed me off at first. Letty had Alex at eighteen, never told the father and dumped raising him on her mom, then nine years later did the exact same thing with her daughter Luna. As a single teen mom myself (my son was born a week before my seventeenth birthday) I know how hard it is but it is doable. So when Letty’s story first started I had no sympathy for her. But then the story fleshed out and choices were explained and in the scope of the world they all fit. I lost my anger and my empathy kicked in and then the story soared. The interplay between Letty’s past life and Alex’s current one was particularly striking. The way two lives can mirror each other and yet have vastly different outcomes is a big theme in this story and it helped to make the characters more real. Seeing the failures in herself coming out in Alex enables Letty to become a better person and mother. It is a rare novel that can blend teen love, absentee parents, illegal immigration, and teen parents and not feel contrived or preachy and We Never Asked for Wings succeeded.
◊ Favorite lines from Section 4 Chapter 5 – “The birds had been given everything they needed. A home in the thin, pure air: a moment of weightlessness, a reprieve from the gravity of life.”
¤ Biggest Cliché – The woman, who while she does have flaws, believes herself unworthy of love and it drags through the book. “Oh I’m so damaged I’m no good to you.” Put your big girl panties on and realize that they love you for who you are, past included.
Δ What makes you instantly mad at a character?