by Randy Ribay
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 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.
As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
This is the first book I read by Randy Ribay and believe me when I say that I will be looking for any others Ribay may have in his background. Patron Saints of Nothing is a heartbreaking novel about family, grief, anger, and the immigrant experience. The story is about Jay, a Filipino-American who finds out her Filipino cousin Jun has been murdered under the "leadership" of President Duterte and his misleading "war on drugs". Jun travels to the Philippines to find out what exactly happened to his cousin and why everyone is so quick to stay quiet about it.
Jay's story is first full of confusion and lack of motivation for the future as he deals with graduating high school and going off to college. He finds his world turned upside down with the news of Jun's death. Jay and Jun corresponded via snail mail with Jun being the more motivated one to stay in touch. After his death, Jay wonders if there was anything he could have done to help his cousin. His grief mixes with the pain and anger of no one wanting to talk to Jay about how Jun died. The family secrecy, including denying Jun a proper burial, along with the belief that Jun was murdered has Jay traveling to the Philippines. While there, Jay finds that his uncle, Jay's dad is a supporter of Duterte and his "war on drugs". What follows is Jay's experience of being Filipino-AMERICAN and how much that experience separates him from his family's homeland.
This book was whirlwind of a read because of how much emotion was entwined in its pages. It is a complicated family drama while also being a snapshot of what some, if not most, immigrants have to experience in one way or another throughout their lives.
Below you'll find a playlist that will only touch a bit on the emotions I felt while reading this book - feel free to comment with your suggestions. And don't forget to pick up this book tomorrow when it releases!