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We Never Asked for Wings (2015)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5075648,595 (3.76)21
Fiction. Literature. HTML: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.
Praise for We Never Asked for Wings
 
“Deftly blends family conflict with reassurance: Wings is like Parenthood with class and immigration issues added for gravitas.”People (Book of the Week)
 
“This poignant story will stay in readers’ hearts long after the last page. . . . Diffenbaugh weaves in the plight of undocumented immigrants to her tale of first- and second-generation Americans struggling to make their way in America. Moving without being maudlin, this story avoids the stereotypes in its stark portrayal of mothers who just want the best for their children.”RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
 
“Diffenbaugh is a storyteller of the highest order: her simple but poetic prose makes even this most classically American story sing with a special kind of vulnerable beauty.”Bustle
 
“[A] gripping, heartfelt exploration of a mother’s love, resilience and redemption.”Family Circle
 
“Satisfying storytelling . . . Diffenbaugh delivers a heartwarming journey that mixes redemption and optimistic insight [and] confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers.”Kirkus Reviews.
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» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Vanessa Diffenbaugh has a unique talent in taking characters that would normally drive me nuts in other books and developing them into people your rooting for, she did this more deeply for me in [b:The Language of Flowers|10032672|The Language of Flowers|Vanessa Diffenbaugh|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1333577674s/10032672.jpg|14928278] but with more characters she still did well in this requard for me. I also enjoyed having a teenage boy narrator for this book, I haven't read anything from that perspective in a long time especially outside of the YA genre and it was nice to venture into Alex's head for a bit. Overall the story was good and somewhat believable, I'm glad that I stuck with it since the opening chapters had me wondering if I really wanted to read about a train wreck of a mother but like in [b:The Language of Flowers|10032672|The Language of Flowers|Vanessa Diffenbaugh|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1333577674s/10032672.jpg|14928278] we have the unique opportunity to watch a mother blossom over the course of the book. ( )
  hellokirsti | Jan 3, 2024 |
Not at all interesting - as far as I got, anyway. ( )
  oldblack | Aug 1, 2023 |
Enjoyable read. The anticipation of the eventual fall had me so nervous. Well written! ( )
  McBeezie | Jul 27, 2022 |
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. (Desc. by Sandralovesbooks.)

My Review: I liked the book, but it doesn't compare to her "Language of Flowers." ( )
  lrobe190 | Sep 4, 2021 |
Fan's of Diffenbaugh's "Language of Flowers" will find an equally powerful coming-of-age tale with a very different feel. She has a wonderful way of pulling you into the lives of her characters: I wanted to shake Letty, the young mother who left the raising of children to her parents - until they forced her to take responsibility for herself and her kids, and then I found myself rooting for her. But for me, the power in the story was that of her son, Alex - his compassion, his perseverance and his drive to succeed - which ultimately leads him to a place where we all need to ask some hard questions. Moody and nuanced, It's really a coming-of-age tale of both he and his mother, and Diffenbaugh takes on headfirst the issues of illegal immigration and education in a way that will break your heart and leave you hanging on until the end. Just lovely. ( )
  jenncaffeinated | Jul 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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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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Fiction. Literature. HTML: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.
Praise for We Never Asked for Wings
 
“Deftly blends family conflict with reassurance: Wings is like Parenthood with class and immigration issues added for gravitas.”People (Book of the Week)
 
“This poignant story will stay in readers’ hearts long after the last page. . . . Diffenbaugh weaves in the plight of undocumented immigrants to her tale of first- and second-generation Americans struggling to make their way in America. Moving without being maudlin, this story avoids the stereotypes in its stark portrayal of mothers who just want the best for their children.”RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
 
“Diffenbaugh is a storyteller of the highest order: her simple but poetic prose makes even this most classically American story sing with a special kind of vulnerable beauty.”Bustle
 
“[A] gripping, heartfelt exploration of a mother’s love, resilience and redemption.”Family Circle
 
“Satisfying storytelling . . . Diffenbaugh delivers a heartwarming journey that mixes redemption and optimistic insight [and] confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers.”Kirkus Reviews.

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