Selected by Barbara Kingsolver as winner of the 2016 Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, The Leaversis a riveting story about a Chinese mother living in New York with her young son who goes to work one day and never comes home. Deming, who is 11 when his mother Peilan, or Polly, disappears and leaves him with her boyfriend, Leon, Leon's sister, and her 10-year-old son, is used to being left behind by his mother. Raised by his maternal grandfather in a rural village in China until he was 6, Deming didn't get to know his mother until he was forced back into her life following his grandfather's death. Just five years later, and Deming is just starting to get used to life with his mom, starting to love her laugh and her humor, when she leaves for her shift at the nail salon and is never seen again.
Abandoned by Leon, the man he once considered his father, and unable to be cared for by his pseudo-aunt, Deming is adopted by well-meaning, white suburban couple Kay and Peter, and quickly goes from slumming it on the couch with his makeshift family in the Bronx to wearing cargo shorts, playing video games with friends, and owning his own laptop in a small town in upstate New York. Disconnected from his family, from his past, and from his roots, Deming becomes Daniel in his new life, but he never stops trying to solve the mystery of his missing mother. When he finds out she is alive and living in China, he has another mystery to solve: why she left him, and why she never tried to get him back.
Shifting perspectives between Deming/Daniel and his mother, Polly, The Leavers expertly weaves a tale of the conflicts between love and loyalty, personal identity and familial obligation, and the growing divide between freedom and social justice. An affecting novel that details the the gut-wrenching realities facing illegal immigrants and their families in modern America, Lisa Ko's debut is the 2017 fiction release you can't afford to miss.