We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a rather uncomfortable book to read but not for reasons you might think. Letty, the protagonist, had a lot of hope before she found herself pregnant when she was about to leave for college. She made the difficult decision to keep the baby, not tell her boyfriend (he was med school bound), and began the downward spiral of her life. Now at 32, she is still a single mother with two children, living with her mother, and irresponsible. She allowed her mother to take over her parental roles. The problem arises when her father returns to Mexico. Shortly after that, her mother follows and makes Letty return to her home and children.
The story follows Letty as she is on the verge of staying in poverty, allowing her children to grow up without the opportunities she wants for them or stepping up. Yet how does one step up when she has little skills, no education past high school, and has no more safety net? Rather than write a character that magically changes, the reader joins Letty on her journey to make changes, small as they are, to give her children something more. And it's really hard.
The story addresses the difference in geography and school districts, how poverty begets poverty, how difficult it is to break out of it, and legal and illegal immigration. Letty has a hard life but she doesn't have to try to live below the radar of ICE like other characters in the book. This is very well written and I liked the ending.