We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really loved Vanessa Diffenbaugh's earlier novel, The Language of Flowers so I was so happy to see that she was coming out with a new novel! This one comes out on August 18th and I definitely recommend that you pick this one up!
This is a very different novel from her previous novel. We Never Asked for Wings focuses on motherhood, family, immigration and the American dream. I found it to be a really fascinating look at these things and it grabbed me right away. Diffenbaugh is definitely a great storyteller. The characters in this novel were so well drawn that they felt very real to me - flawed, multi-faceted and realistic.
I loved the exploration of illegal immigration through realistic characters - how being illegal 'feels' came alive for me. It gave me a more 'inside' view of that situation and ultimately helped me understand facets of it that I wouldn't have understood fully otherwise. I think the book really excelled at exploring what illegal immigrant families face every day.
The other major exploration of this novel is around family, particularly motherhood. The main character of the novel is a woman who has never really had to mother her children as she let her parents take the parenting lead. When they are no longer there to do so, she must figure out how to do the right thing and step up. The exploration of both her desperation and her love for her children were interesting. I found it difficult to be OK with some of her really bad decisions as a parent but it was interesting to see her work those things out throughout the novel. All in all, I think it was a great exploration of motherhood and redemption.
I also thought that this novel does a great job of exploring poverty and how poverty impacts so many aspects of ones life - education, transportation, access to information, and just day to day ease of life. The juxtaposition of the haves and the have nots is very evident in this novel. Diffenbaugh really takes her readers through the ins and outs of poverty in this novel which is another thing that I really liked about it.
My only frustration with the novel was the ending. Although it was fine, it felt a bit too easy for me. It just wrapped up so perfectly that it was almost too perfect. I wish it had felt more realistic to me. But, the story until then was fantastic so I can let the ending be just a small issue for me.
All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. Not quite as much as her first novel but I think this is a solid follow up! There is so much in this novel that will make the reader think and look at the world differently! For that alone, I think this novel is worth the read! Highly recommend!
NOTE: I was given this galley from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.