13 Apr 2020



Author: Randy Ribay
Series: N/A
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

A 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 Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
There were a lot of really good things about this novel, including the characters, the setting, and the obvious emotion that went into writing it. I fully connected to our main character, even though we don't share any similarities, which is a true testament to Ribay's writing ability.

A beautiful, powerful story about learning about yourself, your heritage, and the past to move forward into the present and the future. It explored themes of guilt and family in a way that I rarely see in fiction, especially Young Adult fiction. I was enthralled in this story once I got into it (about 15%). I thought it was truly incredible - and it evoked so many emotions, especially the ending.

It intertwined the political atmosphere so flawlessly and I appreciated those details mixed in with the understanding of how that impacts a family. I have mixed feelings about whether the way that Jun's murder happened was justified in the context of the story, but I did think that it worked in the moment.

This is an important book that showcases the life of an immigrant, especially one trying to find their way in their own culture, while highlighting the political aspects of the war on drugs in the Philippines. I appreciated learning from a perspective of impact and "victimhood" to see what people perceive to be the issue for themselves.

However, I thought that the quasi-romance was squished in there (and unnecessary) and that the beginning was a little too slow for my liking, which is why I'm only rating this one four stars. It felt like the "romance" was an afterthought and something put into the story because it would appeal to the reader, but it just felt forced.

I really enjoyed this one. I loved reading it and I definitely cried at the end which means that overall I highly recommend it!

Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Jamie! I wasn't a big fan of the romance as well. I think the book could have done without it. As a Filipino, I'm grateful for this book as it has helped give voice to the circumstances in my country.


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