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We Never Asked for Wings (2015)

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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4285143,933 (3.82)20
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.… (more)
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» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
This is really more like 4.5 stars to me because I felt like some parts of the story were too rushed. Other than that, I loved it. This was one of those books that once you start reading makes you want to do nothing but read so you can finish it. Most of the characters were so rich and vivid, it like I knew them. I wanted more Wes and I would have liked a little more on the friendship with Sara because it seemed very important to Letty. ( )
  sunshine608 | Feb 2, 2021 |
Disappointing! The Language of Flowers was so well done, that this feels like a big let-down. The story centers on Letty, who is very hard to be sympathetic toward -- single mom who makes singularly bad decisions (like chasing her Mom to Mexico and leaving her 2 children Alex, 15 and Luna, 7 -- by 2 different fathers -- alone for a week) and getting her son drunk, and lying about their address to get them into a better school (slightly understandable, but it backfires astronomically). So yes, part of the story arc is Letty learning to be a mother since her own mother did all the work prior to her departure, but painful to be party to this learning curve. Hate to think I am turning into a Republican! Another component of the story is Alex wanting to know who his father is -- and Letty crossing paths with this teenage love who doesn't even know he has a son. This part of the story is the most interesting and engaging. Meanwhile, Letty's love life is a focus when she must choose between Wes (high school sweetheart, father of her son,) and Rick, fellow bartender, chef, savior for all Letty's self-imposed problems. Luna is a bratty, needy child and her parentage is unknown though Roofies are hinted at. The other really good part is the references to birds and migration. Letty's father, Enrique is a folk artist who makes feather mosaics, which is fascinating, but after he stays in Mexico with her mother, that dimension of the story is mostly dropped. We get to watch Letty sort out her life, pull herself and her children up by the bootstraps (but not really, because she has help from Rick, Wes, and her friend Sara) and learn to be a mother, which is not a believable success by the end of of the book. There is much hope for Alex though who has his head on straight, is motivated and has found his first true love, Ysenia. Immigration issues are explored as well as single-motherhood and equity in education. Good issues, but wrong mouthpiece. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
If you enjoyed her first book, The Language of Flowers, I think you'll like this one too. ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
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 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (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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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.

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