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One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.
This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses social justice issues.
Lisa Ko is the author of The Leavers, a 2017 National Book Award for Fiction finalist, won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2018 PEN/Hemingway Award and the 2017 Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. The Leavers was a national bestseller and named a best book of the year by NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, The Los Angeles Times, Electric Literature, the Irish Times, and others, and has been translated into five languages. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories and her essays and nonfiction in The New York Times, The Believer, and elsewhere.
She is the recipient of fellowships from Hedgebrook, the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Ucross, Blue Mountain Center, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the MacDowell Colony, among others. She has taught creative writing at the City College of New York, Indiana University, the New School, Queens College, the One Story Summer Writers Conference, and many community settings. She lives in New York City.
Your PBC Guru Moderator:
Megan Behm is a Book Club Operations Manager at PBC Guru, a book club management company that believes in the power of lifelong learning communities centered around reading and thoughtful discussion. PBC Guru partners with more than 250 higher education alumni associations and private high schools, businesses, library systems, and professional societies worldwide to create meaningful and vibrant online book clubs. PBC Guru's virtual book clubs allow over 130,000 members to connect from anywhere they are, at whatever time is convenient. With PBC Guru, Megan develops the content for and moderates the discussions for over 50 book clubs, reading titles from all genres. Before joining PBC Guru, Megan spent ten years working in the performing arts and literary industries in Washington, D.C., and New York City. She is a life-long bookworm and a proud graduate of the College of William & Mary.