If you are having difficulty navigating this website please contact us at member.services@bookofthemonth.com or 1-877-236-8540.

Get your first hardcover or audiobook for just $5.

Join now.
The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok
Contemporary fiction

The Leftover Woman

by Jean Kwok

Quick take

Steeped in atmosphere and mystery, this poignant portrait of motherhood and belonging will have you turning pages.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Nyc



Jasmine Yang arrives in New York City from her rural Chinese village without money or family support, fleeing a controlling husband, on a desperate search for the daughter who was taken from her at birth—another female casualty of China’s controversial One Child Policy. But with her husband on her trail, the clock is ticking, and she’s forced to make increasingly risky decisions if she ever hopes to be reunited with her daughter.

Meanwhile, publishing executive Rebecca Whitney seems to have it all: a prestigious family name and the wealth that comes with it, a high-powered career, a beautiful home, a handsome husband, and an adopted Chinese daughter she adores. She’s even hired a nanny to help her balance the demands of being a working wife and mother. But when an industry scandal threatens to jeopardize not only Rebecca’s job but her marriage, this perfect world begins to crumble and her role in her own family is called into question.

The Leftover Woman finds these two unforgettable women on a shocking collision course. Twisting and suspenseful and surprisingly poignant, it's a profound exploration of identity and belonging, motherhood and family. It is a story of two women in a divided city—separated by severe economic and cultural differences yet bound by a deep emotional connection to a child.

Read less

Content warning

This book contains scenes that mention infertility and miscarriage and scenes that depict domestic violence.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Leftover Woman.

Why I love it

I love a good family drama where the most intimate parts of a character are exposed by familial dynamics. The Leftover Woman is steeped in these dynamics, perfectly set up for me to devour it—but Jean Kwok didn’t stop there. She throws in a mystery too, layering this story with added depths.

First, we meet Jasmine, a Chinese immigrant in 2007 New York. She’s come to the United States to reunite with the daughter taken from her by China’s One Child Policy. Jumping ahead 15 years, Rebecca—a high-powered publishing executive—enters the fold. The book moves between these two timelines, uncovering both women’s secrets as we go. Through Jasmine’s days of searching and nights at grimy clubs in Chinatown, we learn there are plenty of unexpected obstacles in her way. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s seemingly perfect life—enviable husband and a beautiful adopted daughter—begins to fracture after an industry scandal calls everything she knows into question.

The Leftover Woman is a heart-racing and touching story about the lengths mothers will go to for their families, starring two exceptional women who have more in common than at first glance. Kwok’s skills are on full display as each page brims with suspense, heartache, and love. I implore you to pick up The Leftover Woman this month—its emotionally resonant ending will leave you full of hope.

Read less

Member ratings (3,076)

  • Stephanie W.

    Hope Mills , NC

    I loved this book. Jasmine was amazing. This was a shocking story and then knowing that Lucy was really Jasmine and how she stayed close to Fiona. I’m glad Fiona finally knew who her real mother was.

  • Susie Q.

    Chula Vista, CA

    Overall I really enjoyed the novel and it held my attention throughout. The last third of the novel felt both rushed and unrealistic. That didn’t ruin it for me, but it could have been so much more.

  • Morgan Z.

    Fordyce, NE

    This book touches upon China "one child policy". The two women are different in every way including looks, where they are from, & social status. Undocumented immigrant vs a person that is established!

  • Jeanie D.

    Jupiter, FL

    I enjoyed this well written story about 2 tenacious & inspiring mothers who don't know each other but are connected. It is a tale of sacrifice & love, & being a mother, I connected w/ these characters

  • Azadeh G.

    Rocklin, CA

    The last chapter was my favorite; great ending. Such a heartbreaking story that had me feeling every emotion. At times I was torn between the two characters; not sure who I was rooting for. Great read