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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 "I was hooked from the first breathtaking pages of We Never Asked for Wings , caring about this exquisitely vulnerable family, hoping right along with them on every page that each heart-rending, impossible choice would lead them somewhere better together
Random House LCC US
1 The edge of the mattress dipped as Alex sat down. Luna was curled into a ball, doing that thing she did when she wanted someone to believe she was still asleep: eyes scrunched too tightly closed, lips pulled down at the corners because Alex had told her once that she smiled when she faked sleep, so now she overcorrected. Wisps of long black hair had escaped her braids and tangled around her gold earrings; a smudge of drool flaked white off her cheek. Checking to see who was there, she squinted at Alex through crusted eyelashes and then snapped her eyes shut again. Where she'd recently lost her two front teeth, her gums were swollen and red. How could he possibly tell her? She was only six. Only six and tiny too- even with their grandmother cooking constantly, there were weeks she lost weight instead of gaining it, and she didn't have any to lose. What would he feed her? He felt again the despair washing over him, as it had when he'd first woken up and read the letter; with puffed cheeks, he held his breath until it passed. Everything is going to be fine, he told himself. Everything is going to be just fine. He was fourteen years old, fifteen in a month. He'd been watching his grandmother long enough to know what to do. But it wouldn't be easy. Luna wasn't the kind of kid who just listened. Getting her to do anything took extensive negotiation, distraction, and occasionally- even with his grandmother- bribery. Alex decided to skip straight to the bribery. "Too bad Luna's not awake, because I'm about to have donuts for breakfast." She pressed her face into the pillow to muffle a squeal and clamped her hands over her ears as if this might prevent their grandmother from hearing. It was breaking three rules, at least: (1) Stopping anywhere on the way to school, (2) Eating sugar before noon, and (3) Eating donuts, ever. "Don't worry, she isn't here." Luna peeled away from the pillow. Her brown eyes studied Alex, looking for clues as to how she should feel about this unfamiliar state of being. "Where is she?" He forced himself to smile. "Mom took her to get Grandpa." "They found him?" Alex paused, then moved his head in a kind of circle, a motion that Luna would interpret as a yes but that was ambiguous enough to get Alex off if he was ever questioned for lying at the gates of heaven. He'd hidden his grandmother's letter behind the tip jar his mother kept in the kitchen cabinet, which he'd hoped would be full (she'd taken most of the money, though, leaving only three inches of coins at the bottom of the jar) and estimated the time it would take for them to return by the miles to Oro de Hidalgo and back, calculated at seventy miles an hour
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