We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

a book review


During my first camping trip, my boyfriend took me to the bookstore and made me search for that one book which caught my eyes a couple of days ago. It was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It was her first book and I loved it. The simplicity of the plot, the complexity of the characters, the subtle art of story telling.


We Never Asked for Wings is her second published novel. After my experience with her first book I was looking forward to this with great anticipation. Also a bit of fear as usually writers let me down with their second books. This book is about Letty and her family. It talks about subjects like migration, family and belonging. Finding home, and I must confess although I did somewhat understood the title, it never hit me until this precise moment as I write this line.

Letty's father returns to Mexico, leaving his grandson, Alex, his collection of feathers with a simple note, "make wings." Letty struggles to learn how to be a mother without her own mother and the sweetness of it all leaves you wishing you could snuggle Luna yourself. And though I have read many reviews feeling disgusted with Letty’s character for her actions, from a literary point of view this means Vanessa did a great job with the character. She was flawed in many ways, and with her children she tries to make things right. I have seen my own parents struggle for us, and yes, all great parents will lie and do the impossible for their children. It is not about morality but about survival, and nobody really understand this unless they go through it. I guess this is why I was not very upset with Letty, but feeling sorry and understanding, while hoping that in the end she does the right thing.

. . . the origin of our identity is love.
The phase of the story, just like with her first book, was constant and I was glad she kept to this style. Though in a way you wish for more plot deepness, you know it has just enough to make you love it. The characters are immediately connecting to you, reaching out, saying "listen to, I am here, this is my story." What I like about Vanessa's books so far is that, the characters have this sort of magic feeling to them as if they were real. And who knows? Maybe they are. Somewhere out there is a Letty, a Luna, a Rick and an Alex, as well as many Yessenia’s. And they are all searching for home. So far this is a recurrent theme in her writing and yet it is different in each book.

I truly recommend this book to everyone looking for a heart warming quick read. Is like reading a fresh breeze of summer after you are done with so many complex books. And though there are mixed feelings for the ending, this is a refreshing one and I believe people should stop complaining about endings, they are either all too perfect or all too cruel. I liked it and I loved the idea of the future that waited for them.

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