One morning, Deming Guo’s mother Polly goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. Left with no one to care for him, eleven-year-old Deming is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.
A vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging,The Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away—and how one woman learns to live with the mistakes of her past.
The Leavers was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction and the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Award for Socially Engaged Fiction.
Common Reading Selection Committee, 2017-18
Michele Van Hoeck, Co-Chair, Dean of Library
Aparna Sinha, Co-Chair, Culture & Communication
Julie Chisholm, Culture & Communication
Margot Hanson, Library
Mike Holden, Mechanical Engineering
Elaine Kociolek, Student Engagement & Academic Support
Alex Parker, Science & Math
Amy Parsons, Culture & Communication
Martin Shimada, student
Marissa Sutro, Marine Transportation
More about the Common Reading Program objectives, selection criteria, and finalists
photo by Art Streiber for iBooks