Patron saints of nothing

Randy Ribay

Book - 2019

When seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero learns his Filipino cousin and former best friend, Jun, was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, he flies to the Philippines to learn more.

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Published
New York, NY : Kokila 2019.
Language
English
Physical Description
pages cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780525554912
Main Author
Randy Ribay (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* After finding out about his cousin Jun's violent death, Jay Reguero travels from America to the Philippines to uncover how such a gentle person met such a grim end. He finds that the place that he remembers—the place of his birth—has changed in the face of a sweeping drug war initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte, a war that Jun's father, Tito Maning, enthusiastically endorses. Jay digs into the circumstances of Jun's death, while navigating the sinuous history between family members, including the schism created by his own father's decision to raise his children in America. Jay's investigations are an intriguing setup for what is actually a deep, nuanced, and painfully real family drama. Jay himself is a relatable character for biracial readers straddling two different cultures. This dynamic comes into play both when he tries to convey his feelings to his American friends and when he travels abroad and is treated like an outsider by other Filipinos despite looking the same. Ribay's focus, however, is on showing the current-day war on drugs ravaging Filipino society, characterized by extrajudicial vigilante killings endorsed by the highest levels of government. By deftly weaving key details into Jay's quest for the truth, Ribay provides a much-needed window for young people of the West to better understand the Filipino history of colonization, occupation, and revolution. Grades 10-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Passionately and fearlessly, Ribay (After the Shot Drops) delves into matters of justice, grief, and identity in this glimpse into the life and death of a fictional victim of President Duterte's war on drugs in the Philippines. In Michigan, Filipino-American high school senior Jay Reguero is struggling to decide what to do with his life when the sudden death of his cousin Jun raises painful questions about the violent drug war, and an unknown Instagram user convinces Jay that his cousin was wrongly executed. Sick of his relatives' refusal to discuss Jun's death and guilty that he let their once-close pen pal friendship lapse, Jay convinces his parents to send him to the Philippines to reconnect with his extended family and—unbeknownst to them—look into the mystery surrounding Jun's death. There, Jay connects with a culture he barely remembers from childhood visits and uncovers secrets that his cousin kept and his relatives are determined to forget. Ribay employs a delicate touch in portraying the tension inherent in growing up the child of two cultures, Filipino and American. Jay is a compelling character whose journey from sheltered and self-centered to mature, though clearly a work in progress, is well earned. Ages 14–up. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. (June) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 10 Up—Integrating snippets of Tagalog and Bikol, author Ribay displays a deep friendship between two 17-year-old cousins: Jay, born in the Philippines but raised in the United States since infancy, and Jun, born and raised in a gated community in Manila. Jay, considered white in an all-white school, is starting to get acceptances (and rejections) from colleges and finds out while playing video games that Jun, with whom he corresponded for years via "actual letters—not email or texts or DMs," is dead. His Filipino father doesn't want to talk about it, but his North American mother reveals that Jun was using drugs. Jay blames his uncle, a police chief, for his murder after researching the dictatorship of Rodrigo Duterte (the book includes a handy author's note and a list of articles and websites), who has sanctioned and perpetrated the killing of between 12,000 and 20,000 drug addicts by police and vigilantes since 2016. Jay, armed with his stack of letters, returns to Manila to search for the truth. Ribay weaves in Jun's letters so readers witness Jun's questions and his attempts to reconcile the inequity around him with his faith. Jay follows Jun's footsteps into the slums of Manila, the small house of his activist aunts, and the Catholic parish of his uncle, a village priest, and learns painful truths about his family, his home country, and himself. VERDICT Part mystery, part elegy, part coming of age, this novel is a perfect convergence of authentic voice and an emphasis on inner dialogue around equity, purpose, and reclaiming one's lost cultural identity.—Sara Lissa Paulson, City-As-School High School, New York City Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero learns his Filipino cousin and former best friend, Jun, was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, he flies to the Philippines to learn more.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Setting aside his college ambitions when he learns that his cousin has been murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, a high school senior travels to the Philippines to uncover the truth, and the part he may have played in it. By the author of After the Shot Drops. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST"Brilliant, honest, and equal parts heartbreaking and soul-healing." --Laurie Halse Anderson, author of SHOUT "A singular voice in the world of literature." --Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way DownA 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.