Coming to grips with a terrible childhood

The Leavers, By Lisa Ko
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Hard cover, 335 Pages

Little Deming Guo was a child who had experience with abandonment. He was born in New York to an undocumented Chinese immigrant, Polly, who fled China for a better life. After a year of struggling to survive as a single working mother, Deming was sent back to China to live with his grandfather. Deming was about five when his grandfather died and he was returned to his mother in New York, having to reacquaint himself with a mother he didn’t remember. He learned to love his mother again and his new life in the Bronx with its ethnic diversity. However, things took another turn after Polly headed to work one day and never returned. The Chinese family Deming and his mother were living with could no longer afford to keep him and arranged for adoption. Deming was sent upstate to a wealthy and very white community, where his name was changed to Daniel Wilkinson and he, at 11 years old, was forced to cope with the loss of his mother and try to fit in with this new family.

This story deals with immigration and racial issues and how this affects each family member. It tells of the great costs and hardship experienced by those who choose to immigrate illegally. It also tells of how people learn to live with the mistakes of the past and how to forgive.