Book Review – We Never Asked For Wings

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Mantle) 9781447294504

I can’t remember the last time I set aside an afternoon to finish reading a book. I switched off everything electronic and enjoyed every page of We Never Asked For Wings.

I was a huge fan of Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers and I started reading this book as soon as I received a review copy from the publishers. I was hooked from the first line, ‘It wasn’t too late to turn back.’

Letty, a 33-year-old mother of 15-year-old, Alex and six-year-old, Luna has left her children. She is following her parents who have moved back to Mexico. She is terrified. Her mother has mothered Alex and Luna all their lives and Letty has never had to be a parent. When she returns to San Francisco alone, her son finds it hard to forgive her, and she has to find a way to forgive herself and make a new life for her little family.

This is a beautifully-written, sometimes harrowing story dealing with the problems immigrant families face in America. The characters are unforgettable – including the ones we never actually meet – and so well-drawn that I believed I would recognise them if I met them in the street.

In her first novel, Diffenbaugh weaved a magical story with flowers. In her second, she does the same with birds and feathers. And the second book is even better than the first. I think this is going to be my favourite read of 2015.

Amanda Patterson


Lettie abandons her children. It is up to her teenage son, Alex to look after his little sister, while Lettie tries to convince her mother to come back from Mexico.

Lettie has supported her family financially, but her mother has raised her children. She doesn’t think she can cope with a little girl, life without her parents, and a teenage son asking questions about his biological father, but she has no choice.

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. The images are vivid. The characters are broken and hurt, but so beautiful. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has a talent for creating empathy for her characters. This story is honest and raw. The Language of Flowers is still my favourite, but this is a close second.

Mia Botha

Posted on: 27th July 2015