Monday, September 7, 2015

(67)We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


Even though Letty Espinosa has two children, fifteen year old Alex and six year old Luna, she has never really had to be a mother to them.  Her own mother stepped in and was the one to make sure the kids had food and clothes and made it to school on time.  But now Letty's parents have returned to Mexico and Letty is forced to be a mother for the first time in her life.   It is a rough transition for both Letty and the kids.  Alex is hesitant to trust his mother to be able to care for them and Luna- well, Luna misses her grandparents so much she can hardly stand it.  It doesn't take Letty long to catch on to this "mother" thing and she realizes that she wants better for her kids.  She concocts a plan to get them into a better neighborhood and better schools, but struggles and worries with each step.  Things get even more muddied when Alex's father comes back into their lives.  Will Letty finally be able to feel like she deserves the life she has, including her children or will the balancing act give way and force them all back into the life Letty worked so hard to get them away from?

We Never Asked For Wings is one of those books where the title really fits the story.  Alex is a fifteen year old boy who has an awful lot on his shoulders for such a young man. He is wicked smart and so kind, but he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. And the thing is that Letty doesn't know her son at all.  I had a really hard time liking Letty, in fact I despised her at first. But the harder she worked at making things right the more I started coming around.  Letty's story is just one of millions out there, a single mother working hard to provide her kids with a little something more than she had and it is scary.  Letty was scared that she wouldn't be able to do it and I think once her fear became evident it was easier for me to like her. Fear is an understandable emotion.   We are introduced to Alex's girlfriend, Yesenia, and the fact that she is not in the States legally.  It open ups a whole new level of fear for Letty.  She is afraid that Alex will make the same mistakes she made and follow in her footsteps, instead of his fathers.  In the end, things worked out the way they were meant to, but it wasn't an easy path.

Bottom line - I found We Never Asked for Wings to be a beautiful and honest look at the human side of the immigration debate.  The Espinosa family is just one story, but their story - all stories - are worth knowing.

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