Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

In the Country

I'm in the middle of reading Mia Alvar's "In the Country", a collection of nine short stories with a distinct Filipino perspective. One story is of a Filipino teacher in an Arab country. Another is of a white girl living in Manila. So far, I've found each story holding on to an unwritten fundamental authenticity that readers of all backgrounds would enjoy reading.

I applaud books like these. We need more storytellers, more writers to highlight the Filipino hues that make up the world's colors. Too many times, many Filipino writers and filmmakers have unintentional flaws in their storytelling. Some make the Filipino viewpoint an afterthought for the sake of satisfying a mainstream audience. Others make their stories have too many Filipino inside jokes and forget the important non-Filipino readers. It wasn't until I read Melissa De la Cruz's "Something In Between" did I finally read a novel that showcased the credible balance of a Fil-Am protagonist making their way n the world. Now with In The Country, I find another author working on this balance.

This gives me hope that Filipino American storytelling is evolving and morphing into a credible genre. We need to support books like these to prove to publishers there is an interested audience. I sure hope there is an interested audience. We need more successful Filipino writers, more impactful stories with Filipino protagonists.

Which has me biting my tongue about my writing. If all goes well, an announcement soon. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, , , , , ,

Something In Between

Something in BetweenSomething in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in a day. My emotions were up and down with each page as I was strongly affected by a novel written about a Filipino American family. The title of the book “Something in Between” encompasses an emotional feeling for many 2nd generation Filipino Americans. We were raised in America, yet love our homeland unconditionally. We are held in high regard for our strength in English, yet a disappointment for our weakness in Tagalog and other dialects. We have American swag, yet a Filipino hue. Fil-Ams are so diverse in experience and perspective and there is finally a novel that encapsulates one of many Filipino American experiences,  This is a rare novel with a Filipina American as the main protaganist, and therefore, an emotional read for me.

Jasmine de los Santos wasn’t just a character, but in my eyes represents a young me. Yes I’m male, but the struggles and pain she felt in the novel resonated with the uncertainty I felt as a Filipino American teenager. I know there are more like me who can relate to this gray area feeling. Although I can only speak from my limited Filipino American self, I have a feeling this is shared by many American children of first generation immigrants.

I felt every aspect of Jasmine’s Filipino family and her struggles as a Filipino American teenager. In my mind, Melissa de la Cruz’s writing style in this novel gives readers a snapshot of what it’s like being Filipino American. Things happen quickly and it’s not served on a silver platter. Filipino American lives are jumbled, constantly switching between our “Filipino” and “American” identities. It’s an internal switch, undetected by most, unless you are attuned to this push and pull.

The author gives a realistic view of the general theme of immigration in America. There was an air of uncertainty throughout the book, yet their resolve to keep going and using humor as a coping mechanism kept me turning the page.

And the foundation is a love story between Jasmine and Royce, a love story on the cusp of sappiness until it’s pulled back just enough for me to read on. I can see some readers growing annoyed at Jasmine’s up and down feelings, but I didn’t look at this way. Jasmine was going through teenage love, and as we all can probably agree on, teenage love is an emotional ride of extreme highs and lows.

Thank you Melissa de la Cruz for writing this, for garnering support from Harlequin to publish this book. I’m strongly affected by “Something In Between” and highly recommend.

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