The Leavers (Compact Disc)

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The Leavers Cover Image
By Lisa Ko, Emily Woo Zeller (Narrated by)
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Staff Reviews

Deming Guo is eleven years old when his mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese woman goes missing.  They lived in the Bronx with his mother’s boyfriend Leon, the boyfriend’s sister Vivian, and the sister’s son, Michael.  Polly worked in a nail salon and one day after expressing an interest in Florida seemingly just disappeared.  When his mother does not return, Deming is given up to child protective services, eventually adopted by a well to do American couple who live in quiet, very white, Ridgeborough, New York. They promptly changed his name to Daniel, a more American moniker.  It was quite a change for the Chinese child, missing his mother, feeling both abandoned and worried about what might have happened to her.  The story alternates between chapters from Daniel’s perspective and from Polly’s where we learn her fate.  The story takes the reader from New York to China, as Deming struggles to understand his present and his past.  This is a very timely novel with subject matter relevant to what is happening in this country today. 

— Deon Stonehouse

May 2017 Indie Next List

“Deming Guo's first six years of life were spent with his immigrant mother in New York, then China with a grandfather he's never met, and America again. After his mother disappears from her job at a nail salon, Deming is adopted by two professors and dropped into what feels like an alien, all-white suburb upstate. This pattern of early upheaval sets Deming - now Daniel Wilkinson - on a path marked by difference and isolation. As Deming's story unfolds, his mother's side of the story gradually comes to light, filling in holes and ripping others open, until finally, side by side, their disparate journeys form one complete portrait of the resilience of the spirit. This is a heartbreaking, poignant, beautiful book that will stay with you for a long time.”
— Caroline Froh, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Summer 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List

“In a time when immigration is a political issue, this novel puts a human face on a very complex situation. It tells the story of a woman who came to New York from China, created a family, was deported, and what happened after her sudden disappearance. This is an ambitious and compelling novel, told in sections alternating between Polly’s brash, bold, determined, loving, and frightened voice and son Deming’s confused, lonely, troubled one as he grows up under the adopted name of Daniel. Chosen by Barbara Kingsolver for the Bellwether Prize for the best novel to address issues of social justice, The Leavers will open your eyes and your heart.”
— Yvette Olson, Magnolia's Bookstore, Seattle, WA


One morning, Deming Guo's mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an "all-American boy." But far away from all he's ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother's disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It's the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he's loved has been taken away-and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781681685083
ISBN-10: 1681685086
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Language: English