Patron Saints of Nothing

Patron Saints of Nothing

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin's murder.Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President D...

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Title:Patron Saints of Nothing
Author:Randy Ribay
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Patron Saints of Nothing Reviews

  • Inah

    Things I need:

    1.

    Randy showed us the cover sketch when we met and I just about cried. Seeing the final covers ignites the spark and fuels the fire of my social awareness.

    2.

    3.

    4. YOUR SUPPORT

    -

    Read as SR.

    -

    , especially for someone who’s socially aware of the current political situation in the Philippines. There is

    in Jay’s loss of his cousin, Jun;

    from the fact that this Drug War is expl

    Things I need:

    1.

    Randy showed us the cover sketch when we met and I just about cried. Seeing the final covers ignites the spark and fuels the fire of my social awareness.

    2.

    3.

    4. YOUR SUPPORT

    -

    Read as SR.

    -

    , especially for someone who’s socially aware of the current political situation in the Philippines. There is

    in Jay’s loss of his cousin, Jun;

    from the fact that this Drug War is explicitly anti-poor and that some privileged Filipinos choose to stay with their apathy because this doesn’t affect them; and

    from the fact that a lot of Filipinos support this constant violation of human rights.

    I was able to read a manuscript of this book since Randy reached out and asked if I could be one of the sensitivity readers for Jay’s story. Even from then, I love the fact that he was able to

    with the book’s premise.

    Of course, I was a little worried since the main character is a Filipino-American who has little knowledge of the Philippines besides their occasional visits. I was worried with how Jay would digest the reality of the problem we have, but the author addressed it in such a way that

    . No white savior nonsense and the likes, Jay was actually willing to learn and even gets called out a couple of times. His character growth and realizations about the truth and his journey towards finding himself was a delight to see as we go along the story.

    Another notable thing was how genuine the characters’ voices are.

    . I’m really just grateful that Randy Ribay was able to show accurate Filipino representation from different aspects in the book such as politics, religion, family relationships, and even food!

    However, I wanted to talk about how adults were presented in the story. It’s a classic case of “the adults are useless so the youngins better do something about it”, and I kid you not, this is the reality of the Philippine Society.

    .

    The funny thing is all these were personified in Tito Maning’s character so my hatred was just focused on one person. If you’re not from the Philippines, has read this book and you found yourself hating on Tito Maning, I just want you to know that most people have the same mindset as him. It’s pretty much infuriating.

    Overall,

    . It brought a fresh perspective to a highly sensitive topic in the Philippines.

    . Besides politics, it also tackles socioeconomic inequalities, racism, and sexism. God, I’ll never shut up about this book’s importance because it’s truly an eye-opener. All the more reasons to pick this book up if you’re having second thoughts. Trust me, it’s worth your time.

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    I have shared some reading resources in the original post in my site,

  • Jessica

    I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher as part of a blog tour. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative.

    I just want to preface this review by saying this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Like the main character of this book, I am half Filipino and half white. Seeing myself represented in literature means the world to me. I also want to say that I’ve never been to the Philippines so I can’t speak to anything in that regard.

    Wow. This book

    I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher as part of a blog tour. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative.

    I just want to preface this review by saying this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Like the main character of this book, I am half Filipino and half white. Seeing myself represented in literature means the world to me. I also want to say that I’ve never been to the Philippines so I can’t speak to anything in that regard.

    Wow. This book was everything. I don’t even know where to begin.

    First off, all the Filipino culture was amazing to see. I’ve never read a book with this much Filipino culture. Every time I saw something, I was like, “Yeah, that’s my culture right there!” By the way, that happened a lot throughout this book.

    The blurb on the back of the cover compares this book to Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. That was likely a marketing ploy, but in a way I do see merit to that comparison. There’s something about Randy Ribay’s writing that reminds me of Angie Thomas’s. They both like to bring up big points in subtle ways. If you’ve read my review of

    , you’ll see some examples. In this book, one example is when the author casually brings up the American human zoos. Tito Maning says to Jay, “Do you know the Americans stole entire villages and then displayed them in your country as I they were animals in a zoo?” (pg. 153). Yes, that really did happen. Just google, “1904 World’s Fair filipino.” I only just learned about that when I was in college.

    I thought that the author did a great job describing the President Duterte’s war on drugs in a multifaceted way. He showcased different viewpoints on it and shared actual accounts, like the story of Kian delos Santos, who was unjustly shot and killed by the police.

    I also loved how the author tackled the issue of identity and being biracial. As a fellow biracial Filipino, I could relate to Jay a lot. Being biracial is such a tricky thing and the author captured it perfectly.

    There’s a little bit of LGBT representation which I appreciated. It’s always nice to see the LGBT community acknowledged and normalized, even when it’s not a part of the main storyline.

    As for the plot and what happened with Jun, there was a lot of gray areas, which made it feel realistic. Things aren’t so clear cut which is what happens in real life. I appreciated that approach.

    Basically, I just want to thank the author for writing this book. Not only does this book successfully highlight the biracial Filipino American experience, but it also shines a light on a lesser known social injustice.

    To end, I want to share a quote that really hit me:

    “It strikes me that I cannot claim this country’s serene coves and sun-soaked beaches without also claiming its poverty, its problems, its history. To say that any aspect of it is part of me is to say that all of it is part of me” (pg. 227).

  • Laurie Anderson

    Brilliant, honest, and equal parts heart-breaking and soul-healing. I’ll give this astounding book to all the teens and adults in my life. I suspect you will, too. I’d give it 50 stars if I could.

  • Kai

    if you ever wanted to know what a gut punch looks like in book format just have a look at this cover

    RTC

  • Nenia ✨ Literary Garbage Can ✨ Campbell

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    I side-eyed this book a little when it got placed into my hands because on the back, it's compared to THE HATE U GIVE. Given the popularity of THE HATE U GIVE, I can see why publishers and publicists are going to be eager to draw such comparisons, but it feels like a mistake to compare

    about serious issues being faced by people of color to THE HATE U GIVE. THUG was a powerful book; let's not trivialize it with false comparisons.

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    I side-eyed this book a little when it got placed into my hands because on the back, it's compared to THE HATE U GIVE. Given the popularity of THE HATE U GIVE, I can see why publishers and publicists are going to be eager to draw such comparisons, but it feels like a mistake to compare

    about serious issues being faced by people of color to THE HATE U GIVE. THUG was a powerful book; let's not trivialize it with false comparisons.

    Just my two cents.

    That one qualm aside, PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING was kind of amazing. I didn't have any expectations going in, which is probably the best way to enter this book. It's about a boy named Jay, who is half-Filipino and half-white. He's a pretty typical boy: he's not popular, he plays a lot of video games, he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. All that is shattered, however, when he finds out that his cousin was just killed in the Philippines as a result of Duterte's War on Drugs.

    Frustrated with his family's reticence on the subject, and the utter lack of information online, Jay elects to spend his Easter vacation in the Philippines, living with his extended family as he tries to gather clues on why his cousin died. Jay runs into wall after wall, until he gets help from an unlikely source, but as he learns more about his cousin, Jun, and what he did after he ran away from home, Jay starts to realize that people can be quite a bit different from how you remember them in your mind.

    There are so many things that this book does really well. It's not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, for one. PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING brings up colorism, American Imperialism, drugs, ethnocentrism, loss, grief, privilege, and so much more. Privilege plays an especially strong role: for example, even though Jay is quick to recognize privilege when it's at his own expense, he learns that he has privilege of his own both as a light-skinned man of color, and also as a man, that people of color with darker skin and women (especially women of color) do not have. Racism and sexism exist on a spectrum, with some people getting the shortest end of the shortest stick, so it was really great to see Ribay unpack those nuances in a way that kids could understand easily.

    I also thought the war on drugs was discussed in a really great way. I knew about Duterte's authoritarian war on crime, but not to what extent. It was really awful to read about, and to see the wealth disparity between the slums in Manila versus the ostentatious displays of wealth by the government and the upper class. It's easy to fall into the same trap Jay (and, later, his white friend, Seth) did, I think, and marvel in pearl-clutching awe, and think to yourself, "Wow, things are so

    here, people are so

    ." But that's a mistake, a huge mistake, because if you look hard enough, you can find examples of privilege and injustice in any society. Black people in the U.S. face incredible injustice from the police, and people demonize Black Lives Matter and the victims of police violence using the same logical fallacies that people in the Philippines use to excuse the drug users and sellers who are gunned down or jailed by the police. Why? Because it's easier to imagine that the recipient of violence and injustice deserved it than the alternative: that we're facilitating a grave injustice.

    This is a really important book and really touching. At several points, I laughed. At other points, I cried. Ribay talks about the goods and bads of Filipino culture, working in everything from food to family, and from colonialism to Catholicism. I hope PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING becomes a raging success, because so many global issues get lost in the face of domestic issues, and understanding that privilege and the importance of truth-seeking and empathy are important educational tools that help make kids into more thoughtful and compassionate adults.

    P.S. This was an ARC, so my copy and reading experience might differ from yours. Obviously, that didn't bias me since I'm the queen of telling it like it is, even if nobody wants to hear it.

    4.5 stars

  • Olivia-Savannah  Roach

    This book swept me in and took me away. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this book, but I came out of it emotional, informed and deeply moved. I’m going to tell you why in this review!

    I like to consider myself a pretty well-informed person when it comes to news and such. But this book reminded me that it is impossible to know everything and that there is always more to learn. This was the first book I read set in the Philippines, and the first I was hearing of President Duter

    This book swept me in and took me away. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this book, but I came out of it emotional, informed and deeply moved. I’m going to tell you why in this review!

    I like to consider myself a pretty well-informed person when it comes to news and such. But this book reminded me that it is impossible to know everything and that there is always more to learn. This was the first book I read set in the Philippines, and the first I was hearing of President Duterte and the Drug War that is ongoing in the country. This book does a very good job of presenting it in a factual way, that doesn’t shower the country in pity or take too lightly to what is happening either. I really liked the respectful way it informed me of events while still telling the story. I was shocked, to say the least. My eyes were opened. I love learning through reading and this book gave me that.

    The main character in this book, Jay, is also struggling a lot with culture and identity. He is Filipino-American but doesn’t feel that connected to the Filipino side of himself. When he goes back to the country after years, he struggles to reconcile the two halves of his culture and ends up feeling like quite the outsider in what he supposes should feel like ‘the motherland.’ to him. As it was my first time experiencing the Philippines through reading, it was brilliant experience to discover some of the culture, food, history and languages of the country. But while we get to explore all this, we see Jay struggling with an identity crisis that is very familiar to me, and probably to lots of teens in our international world. It was so well done!

    This book also deals heavily with the theme of grief. Jay has quite a unique grieving process as he hasn’t heard from his cousin for a while and understands that he hasn’t known him personally for quite a while. In a way, it makes it even harder for him to handle the grief he is feeling. Not only do we get to see Jay’s grief, but those of the different family members and how they all handle it differently. I really appreciated it, especially when it comes to the end of the novel.

    Quietly, this book has a lot in it. Not only is this an ownvoices account of events in the Philippines, but it also has some LGBT+ representation in there. It briefly touches on some homophobia. It touches on family struggles that can come from parents who have different ideas than what you believe. It touches on coming of age themes, and expectations for the future and what you need to do once you’re finished with school. It touches on drug use, on being a sexual assault survivor, on poverty… And while it does take a moment to touch on all of these subjects, they don’t overtake the plot but rather contribute to it. As well as that, they also aren’t breezed over so quickly that they feel irrelevant. The author has found a great balance there.

    I also want to talk about how wonderfully this book was composed. Which I have to applaud the author for! Even though there are some sad moments in this book, there are the happy moments interspersed as well. Peacefulness too. The development of the story and our main character, Jay, is wonderfully mapped out. We never quite get to meet Jun, but we feel connected to him too. The letters and the imagery used in some lines was brilliant. I really appreciated how well this book was written.

    This will not be the last book I read by this author. It informed me, gave me hope, made me feel emotions and made me smile from time to time. It’s amazing how much of a journey I went on while reading this one too.

    This review and others can be found on Olivia's Catastrophe:

  • Cheska the Great is Not Okay

    As I said in my original review, this isn't the first YA book published by a major company I've read that was written by a Filipino author with Filipino lead(s). This is actually the third book--the first one being

    by Melissa de la Cruz, and the second one being

    by Roshani Chokshi (both of which I recommend).

    But this

    the first book I've read written by a Filipino author with Filipino leads that is largely set in th

    As I said in my original review, this isn't the first YA book published by a major company I've read that was written by a Filipino author with Filipino lead(s). This is actually the third book--the first one being

    by Melissa de la Cruz, and the second one being

    by Roshani Chokshi (both of which I recommend).

    But this

    the first book I've read written by a Filipino author with Filipino leads that is largely set in the Philippines.

    I will admit, I didn't know much about Randy Ribay's background before reading this book. It turns out that Jay's heritage and upbringing were modelled after his own: biracial with a Filipino father and a white American mother, born in the Philippines but moved to the United States as a baby.

    I went into it thinking it was going to be written with a Filipino lens, expecting everything to be 100% accurate because I

    be able to tell if something about the setting/traditions/language is off, but I've given thought about who the author is, who the main character is, and who this book was actually written for... and I realized this wasn't written with a Filipino lens, but with a

    lens. And that there's a huge difference.

    I'm not going to get into the discourse and the silly rivalry between Filipinos and Filipino-Americans (and other foreign-born or foreign-raised Filipinos) because at the end of the day, I just don't give a fuck. And to be honest, I don't really even know where I fall. I was born and raised in the Philippines, but left a month after I turned 15 in 2012. I went back for a two-week trip for a wedding in 2015, four months before I turned 18, and I haven't been back since. I've been living in Australia, coming on 7 years this November. I speak fluent Tagalog, and for a while I have considered myself not to belong with the foreign-born/raised Filipinos. I mean, I wasn't born nor was I raised in Australia, even though I'm a citizen. I'm a newcomer to their culture and I even reject a lot of the elements of their culture. (Hell, I'm referring to Australians as 'they', even though I'm technically Australian.) I'm just plain Filipino, I just happen to be living in another country.

    Right?

    But then again... I haven't talked to my relatives over there in 4 years. I don't really have any close friends to welcome me back if I ever decide to visit for a second time since I left. Any news about the current political climate I only hear about on Twitter, sometimes. Any changes to the laws or pop culture or anything like that, I don't really hear about unless I go out of my way to find out.

    I left the Philippines before Duterte was even elected President. And I don't personally know anyone who was killed in his war on drugs.

    So really... am I any more Filipino than Jay? Once I realized that the book was going to be from his ignorant, privileged, American self, I got annoyed.

    I thought. But after finishing it, I took some time to reflect. If I was in the same situation as Jay, if I went to the Philippines to investigate my beloved cousin's death, would I know what to do any better than he did? Sure, I speak the language, but how would I even go about investigating a death in a country I was no longer familiar with? That changed overtime while I was gone? How would I navigate impoverished neighborhoods when I've grown up privileged my whole life, even more so now that I didn't live in the Philippines anymore?

    I've cast my judgment for Jay aside, especially because he's at least partly modelled after the author himself. I'm not going to get into the discourse surrounding the Filipino identity. The way I see it, the diversity between our upbringings and the environments we grew up in

    the Filipino identity.

    This is the only thing I'm going to address:

    Ahem. Anyway.

    One of my favorite things about this book was the critique of privileged Filipinos, specifically about religion and hypocrisy. The Philippines is mostly Catholic, and with that comes all the bigotry from Christian fundamentalism and conservatism. (Fun fact: the Philippines is the only country in the world aside from the Vatican where divorce is illegal.) A common thing with a lot of middle- and upper-class Filipinos (and I can attest to this, because I'm related to them) is the mentality that as long as you go to church regularly, you're already a good person, and you can be as shitty as you want to everyone else. They tend to ignore the poor and the needy, and don't really value the lives of these people. Proof: they elected Duterte by a landslide.

    It's also interesting to see one of the lesser-known things about Filipino culture being depicted so blatantly--the refusal to openly discuss whatever is construed as 'family secrets'. I don't intend on speaking for all Filipinos because maybe this is just how it is with my family, but we

    tend to pretend that our problems don't exist, that everything is fine until it all comes bursting out like water from a dam during major arguments. And this is how Jun's death was depicted--Jay flies over to investigate it, Jun's family refuses to talk about him or utter his name even though

    Nobody talks about it. They pretend like it never happened.

    Jay's Tito Maning (

    is the word for 'uncle', Maning is a nickname for the name

    ) and his rule over his family made me so queasy. I don't know if this was Ribay's intention, but I did truly look at him as the encapsulation of the iron-fisted Filipino patriarch. I've been lucky not to be raised by a father (or any other male figure) like that, but it reminded me that it

    like this for a lot of Filipino households. The normalized abuse, the act of kicking out their children instead of helping them, and the fact that this character was a

    which added an extra layer of toxic masculinity in the mix... reading about it made me so anxious.

    My critiques about this book are, first, the inconsistent writing style and characters' voices. One minute Jay would speak like any other American kid using basic English, the next he would speak so clinically and more formally. And this is the case for the other Filipino characters too. Filipinos in the Philippines tend to use more formal words because we mostly learn English through school that

    us more formal ways to phrase things. This is different from learning a language naturally from when you were a baby--obviously you're not going to learn formal or complicated words or syntaxes from just speaking to the people in your life as you grow up; you have to actively read and educate yourself about them. One minute, the other Filipino characters would speak natural, basic English, but like Jay, the next they would sound weirdly formal. I'm probably not articulating this very well, but my point is, I wished Ribay made up his mind whether he was going to write the characters speaking in basic American English

    if he was going to write them speaking English in the formal way that Filipinos usually do, instead of switching between the two.

    Secondly, I just found it

    that Jay had never heard of Duterte's war on drugs past the occasional headline. How did his best friend Seth, a 17-year-old white boy from Michigan, know more about it than him? His ignorance about the war on drugs would have been more realistic and believable if

    I just couldn't suspend my disbelief for his thought process. How does someone go from

    to

    ? It just didn't make any sense.

    Thirdly, I just didn't feel like Jay was fleshed out enough as a character. Yes, he was your typical American high school senior who feels a bit lost, the way you do when you're not sure what to do after you graduate other than go to college because that's what's expected of you. But if you asked me what his personality was, I wouldn't be able to tell you.

    My last critique is more of a plot-related one: the very last reveal was a bit anti-climactic and confusing and I can't really figure out why Ribay decided to write it that way. I don't really see the point of discussing it here since it's all going to be under the spoiler tag, but this is the main reason why I rated this 4 stars instead of 5. The writing inconsistencies I could have let slide and given this 5 stars regardless but I just can't let go of this plot reveal. But for those who have read the book already:

    God, this review is long. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and while it didn't end up being a perfect 5-star read like how I expect books I'm super-duper excited for to go, it definitely didn't disappoint either. However, I will say that this book is

    You might not finish this book feeling happy that you were represented as a Filipino, or satisfied that you learned more about Filipino culture, because this book does centre around a really dark time in Philippine history, and it is happening

    And this isn't the sort of thing that you can turn to your friends or family about and feel solidarity with, because odds are, they probably support him (I know my parents do). There are a lot of activists, both in the Philippines and abroad, who are speaking out about Duterte, but they're in the minority. His election is not like the United States because, unlike his American counterpart, he actually won the popular vote. He was elected President by a landslide. I can't even begin to describe how hopeless it makes me feel that a majority of Filipinos are in favor of him.

    So I will end this review with this quote from the book:

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    Just pre-ordered this book!! I can't wait until I get my sweaty palms on it.

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    This wouldn’t be the first YA book I’d be reading by a Filipino author with Filipino leads, but it WILL be the first one largely set in the Philippines.

    And look at the sun’s rays from the Philippine flag behind the MC’s head in the cover....

    Everything about this is a huge fucking deal to me. I’m gonna sob.

  • Lola

    This felt like a familiar tale in the beginning. Someone close to the main character dies and the main character is angry and seeks justice. Except in this case the tragedy happens in the Philippines, far away from the protagonist, and Jay is reluctant to accept the events that lead to the death of his cousin so he travels to the Philippines in order to find out the truth his family is potentially hiding from him.

    It’s a real page-turner. If you enjoy reading stories about change, journeys, famil

    This felt like a familiar tale in the beginning. Someone close to the main character dies and the main character is angry and seeks justice. Except in this case the tragedy happens in the Philippines, far away from the protagonist, and Jay is reluctant to accept the events that lead to the death of his cousin so he travels to the Philippines in order to find out the truth his family is potentially hiding from him.

    It’s a real page-turner. If you enjoy reading stories about change, journeys, family drama and mysterious circumstances, you will enjoy it as much as I did. If not more. Jay, the protagonist, is easy to relate to, despite being flawed and a poor detective. Luckily he makes friends and strengthens his links with some of his family members who are of great help to him. I genuinely wanted to see him succeed in his search of the truth.

    I especially enjoyed all that happened in between him finding out snippets of the truth. How he reconnected with people he hadn’t seen in a while, how he learned more about his culture and where he came from, how he started to understand that life outside the USA can be quite different—that every country has its own ruler with his/her own worldview and laws—and how the truth can sometimes be very hard to obtain.

    It’s a gripping and ultimately satisfying story.

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  • Melanie

    (Thank you so much,

    ,

    , &

    !)

    This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and even though I didn’t love it the way that I truly thought I would, I still am going to boost it forever and always because ther

    (Thank you so much,

    ,

    , &

    !)

    This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and even though I didn’t love it the way that I truly thought I would, I still am going to boost it forever and always because there are a lot of good and important things in these pages, and a lot of things that Americans (and other people not living in the Philippines) need to be educated on.

    I don’t want to make my review about me, but just a little information in case you do not follow me or my reviews; I am Fil-Am, and biracial (white and Filipino) just like the star of this book. I also was raised in Michigan and was accepted into The University of Michigan like the star of this book. My father was born in America, but my grandparents did immigrate here from the Philippines as adults. My family are for sure, without question, “Americanized” but I still grew up embracing my Filipino culture and being proud of it. Also, all of my grandma’s family is still living in the Philippines, and she visits them frequently, sometimes alone and sometimes with us.

    Regardless, I just wanted to say all of these things to help you realize how much I was anticipating this book. Also, that my heart breaks daily over the war on drugs and the blood that President Rodrigo Duterte and his policies have spilled. Most Americans are not aware of the death toll (or the hidden numbers) that is because police and even regular citizens are allowed and encouraged to kill civilians who are said to be using and selling drugs. From public executions to make examples of people, to children dying and being labeled carriers, to more innocents dying but having drugs planted on them after their death, I don’t even have words for how sick I feel just even typing this paragraph. And so many families are left with heartbreak from loss and not knowing what has happened to their loved ones. And the fear that speaking out can literally cost them their lives.

    follows a boy named Jay, who was born in the Philippines to a Filipino father and American mother, but his family moved to The United States under the pretense of having a better life for their children. Yet, when Jay lived in the Philippines, he was very close with his cousin, Jun, and they have kept up writing letters back and forth to one another their entire lives, even though Jay hasn’t responded in a little while. Heartbreakingly, at the start of this book Jay finds out from his parents that Jun has been killed because of the war on drugs.

    Jay cannot for an instant believe that Jun would ever use or sell narcotics, and after a mysterious Instagram message, he asks his parents if they would be willing to allow him to go back to the Philippines to reconnect with Jun’s family after his death. And his parents agree and send him out so he can travel between a few family member’s homes, and that he can reconnect with half of his culture that he has been neglecting. But once Jay arrives in the Philippines, he realizes that there is a lot more to Jun’s death than what meets the eye, and he feels an immense need to get to the bottom of his death and what really happened.

    Okay, so I love this premise more than words. And I really did love seeing things through Jay’s eyes and how he felt like he was completely missing out on a culture that he has been away from for so long. From being very aware of his lighter skin, to having a hard time picking up Tagalog, to realizing how fucking privileged US citizens are and getting called out on it; this book has a lot of good and a lot of important themes, and I truly wish I could put it in every American’s hands.

    But, sadly, a lot of things I just really didn’t like. And again, everything I’m about to say, please take it with a grain of salt. Closer to release, I plan on boosting so many of my beautiful Filipino reviewing friends’ voices, because their voices are what matter. They not only have to live under Duterte, they will know an authentic Filipino living experience way better than me and any trip I could take with my family, or any whitewashed news article I can read.

    I just really disliked how Jun’s storyline, and all the tips and clues Jay was following, ended. And just in general, I really think we should emphasize how just because someone sells drugs or is a drug user, they are still worthy of life and shouldn’t be killed. I mean, yes, it is terrible that children and innocents are dying every single day over this drug war, but it is also awful that people using drugs are dying, too. Sometimes I truly felt like this book, and Jay’s actions, felt very middle grade and very surface level, and we never went past the surface and truly got to see and talk about the horrible things that are taking place. And I’m not saying it is ANY Filipino’s job to educate people on the war on drugs or anything about their culture, but I just feel like had the opportunity to really go there, especially based on the book’s premise, and I was left a little unsatisfied.

    Next, I really hated the little romance in this book. Like, I’m never going to be here for grey area cheating in general. But I’m really not going to be here for a seventeen-year-old and nineteen-year-old either. Like, I get that it is legal in a lot of places, and I get that it is only two years, but I just don’t like it and it makes me feel skeezy while reading. Especially with Jay admitting she is part of the reason he makes the choice he does at the end of the book.

    And, even though this book is supposed to be set in present day, I feel like a lot of the video game references were really dated. And even though this is such a minor element of the book, it is brought up so many times throughout this novel. And each time I kind of was side-eyeing. No one would refer to Sylvanas as the Queen of the Forsaken, especially not in 2019. I mean, do teenagers really still play

    ? And acting like people have physical video game collections in 2019, when everything is digital? I don’t know, it just really pulled me out of the story at every mention.

    Overall, I am just a little bit disappointed. I still think this is an important read. And I still think seeing a biracial American get in touch with a culture he has felt very out of touch with is really important. And I’m always going to be here for it, truly. I would also die for Jay’s titas right this very second. There is also another mention of a f/f relationship in this book too, and I’m always here for seeing positive sexuality representation in life, but especially in the Philippines. And again, I’m feeling really bad already about writing this review, so I hope you respect my feelings, but I also hope you remember that I am very white passing Filipino who has never actually lived in the Philippines and I haven’t been to the Philippines since Duterte's election. But if you are a Filipino reviewer, I would be honored to boost your review for this if you link it below!

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    for loss of a loved one, talk of animal death, talk of drugs and addiction, police brutality, talk of human trafficking, grey area/emotional cheating, and assault.

    Buddy read with

    from

    ! ❤

  • Randy

    Hey, here's another one I wrote!

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