As a reader, I have a tendency to gravitate towards books where I feel represented and seen. And that is what Patron Saints of Nothing did for me. I saw myself and my country in the pages of this book. It was representation that was truthful and raw. It was honest and painful.
This book is not meant to comfort you. In fact, it will force you to face what has been happening for years now and slap you with some hard truths. The political climate is pretty heated right now and this book just served doses upon doses of reality that a LOT of people choose to ignore.
“That’s not how stories work, is it? They are shifting things that re-form with each new telling, transform with each new teller. Less solid, and more liquid taking the shape of its container.”RANDY RIBAY, PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING
I applaud Sir Randy for having the courage to tell it as it is. From how he named names and detailed facts – it was the ultimate reality check that this is really the country that we are currently living in. It is the kind of reading experience that will gut you, make you think, make you mad and make you wonder. The writing was intense, the storytelling was captivating and I was instantly hooked from page 1.
The story was told through the perspective of Filipino – American teenager, Jay and his quest to uncover the truth behind his cousin’s death. It takes us from the US to Jay’s homecoming to the Philippines as he tried to find out more about what really happened to his cousin. It tackles some heavy issues like family dynamics, extended families, toxic family members, LGBT, culture and beliefs, the slum situation and of course, the drug war.
“People are sick sand starving to death in our country, in our streets, and nobody cares. They worry instead about grades and popularity and money and trying to go to America. I don’t want to be another one of those people who just pretends like they don’t know about the suffering, like they don’t see it every single day, like they don’t walk past it on their way to school or work.”RANDY RIBAY, PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING
Patron Saints of Nothing may not give you the version of the Philippines that you wanted to see because it zooms in on the injustices and horrific situations that are actually happening but most often shushed and not openly discussed. Please bear in mind that while this is a work of fiction, a lot of the details that went in were actual facts. These are real names, real people and real events.
“Sometimes I feel like growing up is slowly peeling back these layers of lies.”RANDY RIBAY, PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING
Though there were parts I wish could have been changed, I would recommend this book to anyone especially if you’re Filipino. Pick this up and uncover truths. But I warn you that this is not for the faint of heart. Brace yourself for impact!
Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. He’s the author of An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes, After the Shot Drops, and Patron Saints of Nothing, 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. It has received five starred reviews and was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award, LA Times Book Prize, Edgar Award for YA, and CILIP Carnegie Medal. Randy earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He teaches high school English in the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his wife and two dogs.