The Leavers

Lisa Ko, read by Emily Woo Zeller. HighBridge Audio, , unabridged, 12 CDs, 15 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-6816-8508-3
Ko’s novel centers on Peilan/Polly, a Chinese immigrant who fails to return from work one day, abandoning her 11-year-old son in the Bronx. Through perspective shifts and flashbacks, the story gradually reveals what happened to her during the years after while following the son, Deming, through his turbulent adolescence and young adulthood. Zeller is a veteran narrator with dozens of titles to her credit, but this is not her best audio work. The first problem is that, with the exception of Polly, most of the female characters sound the same, with a high-pitched, overly bright voice that comes across as manufactured. This characterization is particularly true of Daniel’s Anglo-American foster mother and her best friend, but it extends to other women as well, including some of Polly’s cadre of roommates when she is trying to make it in Fuzhou and then in New York. Second, Zeller heightens the novel’s anxiety so often that the listener becomes inured to the story’s subtler emotions. When small mishaps engender the kind of pressured speech and rising pitch that Zeller frequently employs for these characters, it becomes harder to believe their emotions when responding to a genuine crisis. An Algonquin hardcover. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
Genre: Audio
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-61620-713-7
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-1-61620-688-8
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-61620-804-2
Hardcover - 978-1-4328-4118-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5094-5801-1
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