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We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa…
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We Never Asked for Wings (2015)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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3524944,382 (3.84)18
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Letty was always too busy to take care of her own kids. As a single parent, she worked three jobs for fourteen years, while her mother took over the responsibility of the children. Now, in her early thirties, Letty’s parents are leaving her and have decided to move back to Mexico. How will Letty manage? As each day passes, she does the best that she can do, and each day she learns more and more. One day, she decides to get her son out of their dangerous neighborhood high school and into a school that offers opportunities. That’s when things start unraveling little by little.

This book is utterly amazing! I fell in love with the realistic, very human characters, as I followed their struggles with poverty and life in general. This book has a timely message as it deals with a young girl who was brought to this country, illegally, as an infant. This is a story of hope and family and survival. ( )
  Sandralovesbooks | Mar 30, 2018 |
I found this a nice enough, easy read, but was very unbelievable in places and SO many issues were dealt with but none in any depth.
We start with mum Letty leaving 14 year old Alex home alone with (MASSIVELY ANNOYING) 6 year old Luna, to follow her mother to Mexico. Once in Mexica, grandma and grandad decide to stay there which means Letty ha to go home and look atfer her own kids - something she has never done before, leaving it to her parents.
This in itself could have made for an interesting novel - but then we also have Alex finding his dad, Letty falling for fellow bartender hunky Rick - who also teaches her to mix cocktails which somehow makes them loads of money at the airport bar they work in. Rick also manages to snag them a cottage in the nice part of town so the kids can go to the posh school. then Alex falls for a Mexican illegal girl and tries to fake an application for her to go to his school as she is bullied - They get caught, he ends up in young offenders and she goes to an immigration centre. Then at he end everyone makes up and it's all fine.
This would have been enough with Letty trying to bond with the children she had utterly neglected and Alex reuniting with his dad. But all the other stuff thrown in made for a bit of unfocused mess and everything was dealt with with way too light a touch. nothing felt believable or authentic, and anything interesting seemed to be swept away too easily. ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Mar 6, 2018 |
Loved her first book. This was a good read too but I found the ending unbelievable. I could not really imagine that the school/law enforcement would handle Alex/Yesenia so heavy handed. ( )
  SBG1962 | Feb 26, 2018 |
Meh. I really really really wanted to like this book. It was different from many I have read - different setting, family type, etc. BUT...I didn't love it. It was just....okay. I kept picking it up, putting it down, losing it, and then finding it and saying...oh yeah...that book. ( )
  adgcruz | Feb 21, 2018 |
I love how the author explores the struggles of certain populations without preaching. In her first book, The Language of Flowers, it was the foster care system, and in this book it’s immigrants, both legal and illegal. Her characters are realistic and the struggles they face every day can’t fail to tug at your heart.

We follow Letty as she is forced to step up as a parent when her mother, who has been raising her children, unexpectantly returns to Mexico. Letty, now in her 30’s, was an unwed teen-age mom, and she has few skills. How does she navigate the system to find affordable housing, transportation without a car, good schools for her children, and employment without child care, while living in soul-crushing poverty?

In her first book, the author weaves flowers and their meanings into the plot, and in this one she cleverly uses birds and wings. This book deals with some tough topics, and Letty is not always a sympathetic character. She makes mistakes, big mistakes, but like migrating birds who change direction after following the wrong path, so can people. I liked that Letty was realistic in that she didn’t magically change into Mother of the Year. Her changes are slow and she often takes two steps forward, one step back. There were times I wanted to shake her and call social services. However, I really liked her kids, Alex and Luna. Alex was an old soul in a teenage body.

I’m torn between rating this book between 3 and 4 stars. The writing is 4 stars, character development a 4, but some of the plot predictability and the love interests are 3 stars. She magically finds a cheap apartment in a high rent district. Why and how did a poor Hispanic girl living on the other side of the tracks keep a friend like Sara? Letty's alcoholism angle was dropped. Her love interests happened to be a doctor and a co-worker at the bar turns out to really be a wealthy guy who is rebelling against his dad. Really???. However, in this case the strengths outweigh the negatives so I'm rounding up to a 4.

**thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
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Epigraph
The Himalayan legend says there are beautiful white birds
that live completely in flight.
They are born in the air,
must learn to fly before falling
and die also in their flying.
Maybe you have been born
into such a life
with the bottom dropping out.
--from "In Flight," by Jennifer K. Sweeney
Dedication
For Donovan, Tre'von, Graciela, and Miles
And in memory of Sharon Renee Higgins, 1991-2011
First words
It wasn't too late to turn back.
Quotations
Migrating birds reorient themselves at sunset. The exact reason is unknown, but at twight, 
just when the sun drops beyond the horizon line, birds flying in the wrong direction 
correct their flight paths all at once.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055339231X, Hardcover)

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.
 
Praise for Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers
 
“Captivating . . . The Language of Flowers deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“[An] original and brilliant first novel . . . [Diffenbaugh is] a mesmerizing storyteller.”The Washington Post
 
“Fascinating . . . Diffenbaugh clearly knows both the human heart and her plants, and she keeps us rooting for the damaged Victoria.”O: The Oprah Magazine (book of the week)
 
“Diffenbaugh effortlessly spins this enchanting tale, making even her prickly protagonist impossible not to love.”Entertainment Weekly
 
“Compelling . . . immensely engaging . . . unabashedly romantic . . . an emotional arc of almost unbearable poignance.”—The Boston Globe

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 14 Apr 2015 01:14:46 -0400)

"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, 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"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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