Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review: We Never Asked For Wings

Letty Espinosa has been hard at work, juggling three jobs at at time. But it might just be possible that she works so much so she doesn't have to be at home and be responsible for her children Alex and Luna. That has never been a problem, since her mother has been happy to care for her grandbabies. Now her parents are moving back home to Mexico and Letty is left in charge of her family for the first time. With no one to watch her children, Letty finds herself taking Luna along with her to work. At the end of the day, she scrounges through the cabinets hoping to make a little food last until the next paycheck. One day, she comes up with a scheme that just might get her son Alex out of his terrible school and give them all a chance at a better life. But everything must go exactly according to plan or they will be in more dire circumstances than ever before.

In The Language of Flowers, Ms. Diffenbaugh showed the difficulties of the foster care system as her protagonist aged out of foster care and rememberd her experiences in group homes and with foster families. Just like that story was about foster care without being preachy or overwhelmed by it, We Never Asked For Wings has some realistic and compassionate things to say about immigration and the state of education in our country. Letty's parents go back to Mexico after years of living in the United States. Alex falls in love for the first time, but they both have problems - Ysenia is bullied and she worries her mother will be deported and Alex is a brilliant kid who is not being challenged at all in his underserved school. I so appreciate a fiction writer who makes me consider issues without feeling like I've been emotionally manipulated or hit over the head with facts. This is a well-written story with compelling characters. These characters just happen to be dealing with poverty, immigration, and a lack of education.

Diffenbaugh has a unique ability to make me root for characters who drive me crazy. Letty is often a less-than-wonderful mother and there were many moments when I wanted to put the book aside in frustration. But then we see Letty make an effort or Diffenbaugh reveals a small detail about her that kept me reading to the very end. We Never Asked For Wings is a worthy and wonderful follow-up to The Language of Flowers. 

We Never Asked For Wings
By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Ballantine Books August 2015
320 pages
Read via Netgalley 


  1. Am halfway through Language of Flowers and liking it very much. Making a note of this one

    1. I just read that one recently. They are both very good!

  2. Still haven't read The Language of Flowers, but they both sound like good reads. My list of books to read in 2016 keeps growing. I may never catch up! :) Great review.

    1. I can certainly relate to a never-ending book list! Sometimes it's nice to wait until all the hype has died down to read a book, so maybe 2016 is your time for The Language of Flowers. :)

  3. I've never honestly read anything that talks about the foster care system. I think that aspect alone is making me interested in this one. I've also been seeing it everywhere. I'll remember this one when I'm in the mood for a genre like this, which is often!

  4. I have this book, but haven't gotten to it yet.

    Thanks for your review and thoughts.

    Have a wonderful week, and Merry Christmas!!

    Silver's Reviews
    My It's Monday, What Are You Reading