The Leavers By Lisa Ko Book Review




Goodreads Summary: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.

My Rating:4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.


The Leavers is a dual perspective novel following Deming and Polly. Deming  is Chinese American and was abandoned at the age of 11  by his mom,Polly, and was then adopted by white people and was renamed Daniel and basically americanized.The chapters alternate between Daniel who’s trying to figure out what he wants to with his life and we also see Polly’s story and her past and  also the reasons as to why she abandoned Deming.

The Leavers was such a touching novel that explored immigration and family really well. I think it shed a lot of light onto the subject and it’s especially a pertinent novel with everything that’s going on. It was also executed really well as it could’ve been kind of confusing with the alternating between past and present and two different perspectives but it wasn’t at all.

While I did find it to be a really touching and important novel I did find it was a little lacking at times. The dialogue and writing were a little stilted in certain parts which kind of ruined the whole emotional aspect of it all. It wasn’t badly written but at times it felt kind of obvious that I was reading a book which some people may like but I really don’t. Despite that fact I do think that it was an amazing read.


All of the characters in the leavers were really developed,and while I didn’t like all the characters,I felt for each and every one of them. Lisa Ko really  demonstrated the flaws of humanity in a subtle way. We really see how the mistakes people make can affect so many people but that it’s also important to learn from them and not stay stuck in the past.

I loved seeing Deming’s struggle as he tries to figure out his future and as he’s still trying to cope with the fact that his mother abandoned him.I also liked seeing Polly’s story and her explanation behind her abandoning of Deming and while at first I didn’t like her that much I grew to really like her character. She had her flaws but I still liked her,

The leavers had also some good side characters but I wish that some of them could’ve been expanded on a little more. I think it would’ve been interesting to see a little more insight from Deming’s adoptive parents because I know that they’re not bad people but we really didn’t get a lot about them for me to form an opinion on them and I think that they were a pretty important aspect of Deming’s life.