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Informative,
Difficult,
Dramatic

7 reviews

The Leavers: A Novel
by Lisa Ko

Published: 2017-05-02
Hardcover : 352 pages
16 members reading this now
37 clubs reading this now
2 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 7 of 7 members
FINALIST FOR THE 2017 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and Electric Literature

“There was a time I would have called Lisa Ko’s novel beautifully written, ambitious, and moving, and all of ...
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Introduction

FINALIST FOR THE 2017 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and Electric Literature

“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.” —Ann Patchett,??author of Commonwealth


Lisa Ko’s powerful debut, The Leavers, is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.
 
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. 
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind. 
Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heartwrenching choice after another. 
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past. 
 
 
Lisa Ko’s fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Apogee Journal, Narrative, Copper Nickel, the Asian Pacific American Journal, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Writers OMI at Ledig House, the Jerome Foundation, and Blue Mountain Center, among others. She was born in New York City, where she now lives. Visit her at lisa-ko.com.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Discussion Questions

How does a person’s name factor in his/her sense of self? Would you be a different person now if you had grown up with a different name? Do you know anyone who changed his/her first name, and why?

The PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction is awarded to novels that address issues of social justice. What do you think can be done to address the situation Polly finds herself in? Or Deming?

How do the alternating points of view affect your understanding of what happens? Did you empathize with one character’s perspective more so than the other? Why?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Timely - Great discussion"by mindysauve (see profile) 01/26/18

While the characters were not exactly lovable, the story was engaging and completely topical for today's headlines. Makes for great book club discussion about the plight of undocumented workers and families... (read more)

 
by Abby0814 (see profile) 11/17/18

 
by [email protected] (see profile) 09/07/18

What did you think of the book?

 
  "Interesting and engaging"by [email protected] (see profile) 08/22/18

I found this book to be well-written and thought- provoking. The author creates a realistic perspective with each character and the story kept my interest throughout its entirety.

 
  "The author presents parent/child conflicts using immigration as its driving force."by thewanderingjew (see profile) 05/27/18

The Leavers, The Leavers, Lisa Ko, author, Emily Woo Zeller, narrator
There are many reasons why this book received so many accolades, the foremost, I believe, is because it is about curren
... (read more)

 
by LaurieKreitzer (see profile) 03/17/18

 
by KRoby (see profile) 03/01/18

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