Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

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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Filipino writers

I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more Filipino writers who are household names. I’m sure pundits will say there’s a lot of Filipino writers out there, but I argue that they lie in the shadows, their talents vastly unknown to the world.

I’m a fan of many contemporary Filipino writers – authors Melissa De La Cruz, Jessica Hagedorn, Cecilia Brainard, Oscar Peneranda, Mel Orpilla, and Marjorie Evasco come to mind. They are, in my opinion, great writers. Melissa De La Cruz I would say has sold the most books, with Jessica Hagedorn close behind her. Melissa’s novels targets the YA teen market in America, so my assumptions are based on her genre and subject matter, while Jessica’s is more artistic, which I believe caters to more niche crowd.

But in the relative mass market scheme of things, they are still trying to emerge from the shadows of other contemporary writers like Stephenie Meyer, Jodie Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, Kristin Hannah…well the list can go on forever. I think this is something that cannot be disputed based on book sales.

I wonder why this is the case, besides the fact that most writers, regardless of ethnicity, live in obscurity.

When I think of the greatest Filipino writer of all time, Mr. Jose Rizal I’m reminded how it takes an entire army of people to make a profound change in the world. Unfortunately, if you ask any ordinary Filipino American teenager or young adult who Jose Rizal is, I would say the vast majority of them would look back at you with blank stares, his revolutionary work El Filibusterismos almost forgotten with the new generation of Filipino Americans.

In my opinion, most Filipinos just aren’t into writing anymore. We are a people who love to eat, party, socialize, watch tv, films, sports, youtube, and post witty comments on Facebook. In my opinion, there just isn’t enough interest to write in the Filipino community.

So when new Filipino authors emerge, I become intrigued and hopeful. I’m super excited about Miguel Syjuco, a Filipino author, who is gaining praise for his debut novel Ilustrado’s. I have yet to read it, but can’t wait to see how Syjuco wraps his Filipino journey into English prose. A new author like Syjuco keeps me hopeful.

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