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The Leavers by Lisa Ko tells the story of Deming Guo and his mother, Polly, who mysteriously disappears one morning and he is left wondering why she left him behind. While The Leavers focuses on one family, it is a universal tale of loss, misunderstanding and hasty decisions and it is also a timely story as it deals with the instability of being an illegal immigrant in the U.S.


Ko sets up the story of Deming and his mother, flashing back and forth in time and while all along you know that Polly leaves, you aren’t sure why. Ko is a skilled story teller as there were many times that my stomach dropped and my heart ached for Deming and Polly. I felt connected and invested in them and that makes for a wonderful novel.

I won’t give away the ending, but as you move through the novel, you come to suspect what happened and you hope that Deming and Polly will find their way both back to each other and toward happier lives.