Review: THE LEAVERS

Just a few days ago, I finished reading THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko. On the surface, THE LEAVERS is about immigration and the American dream that draws folks from around the world.

But THE LEAVERS is more than an immigrant story. It’s a story about a mother-son relationship. It’s rare to see this relationship shown in novels or film. We often get stories of mothers and daughters or fathers and sons. It’s also a story about identity and belonging. Both Deming and Polly struggle with fitting in their surroundings whether that be in New York, China, or Ridgeborough. That struggle of fitting is exacerbated for Deming when he is adopted by a white family.

Polly is easily my favorite character of THE LEAVERS. She is a flawed woman just like women in real life. She has hopes and dreams that she never gives up and though life has thrown a lot of hardships at her, Polly persevered. In some ways, this novel is about survival. Ultimately, what I loved the most that Polly was portrayed as a mother but she was not defined by motherhood. Polly maintained her own goals, aspirations, and dreams whether it was dreaming of managing the nail salon, moving to Florida, teaching, or the ending which I will not spoil.

The details are rich with imagery and dialogue and the alternating narratives worked well for the novel. This is a wonderful read that I’d recommend to anyone even those who don’t read often as it is not a difficult read but a well-worth one

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