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America Is Not the Heart
America Is Not the Heart: A Novel | Elaine Castillo
Three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they're building in America How many lives can one person lead in a single lifetime? When Hero de Vera arrives in America, disowned by her parents in the Philippines, she's already on her third. Her uncle, Pol, who has offered her a fresh start and a place to stay in the Bay Area, knows not to ask about her past. And his younger wife, Paz, has learned enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. Only their daughter Roni asks Hero why her hands seem to constantly ache. Illuminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a debut novel. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.
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BarbaraBB
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#12BooksOf2021

I am sharing my almost-favorites of the year. The ones who didn‘t make my #Top21Of21 but are favorites nevertheless. One for each month.

For #December I am using the book with which I completed #ReadingAsia2021. It has been such a great experience and I can‘t wait to explore Africa thanks to @Librarybelle and #ReadingAfrica2022.

Andrew65 This looks interesting. 13mo
Librarybelle Yay! So looking forward to next year‘s readings!! 13mo
CarolynM Happy New Year, Barbara🥂💕 13mo
BarbaraBB @CarolynM You too Carolyn, make the most of it ❤️😘 (edited) 13mo
BkClubCare I have this on my to-be-listened to list. 13mo
73 likes3 stack adds5 comments
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BarbaraBB
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#BookReport 49/21

Finishing my challenges and it feels so good!

Cinfhen Woohoo 🥳 ♥️🙌🏻 14mo
Ruthiella Well done! 👏👏👏 14mo
AlaMich Someone gave me a book about Karen Blixen when I was young, which led to a minor obsession with her. 😅 14mo
61 likes3 comments
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BarbaraBB
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Pickpick

Filipino-American society is explored in this tender story about a woman‘s journey from torture in the #Philippines to a new life in California.
Hero is her name and she became my hero while reading. How she copes with her past and her trust issues. Her relationship with Rosalyn, her family and her friends, the many dialects that separate them, the food that always unites them. A lovable read.

#ReadingAsia2021 🇵🇭 #Booked2020 #HeartInTheTitle

BarbaraTheBibliophage Stacked, since my husband is Filipino-American. However, it‘s his grandfather who emigrated here. 14mo
BarbaraBB @Texreader @Butterfinger @Catsandbooks I forgot to mention this is also my choice for #FoodAndLit! 14mo
Librarybelle Great review! 14mo
See All 9 Comments
BarbaraBB @BarbaraTheBibliophage In that case I would highly recommend it, it will definitely resonate with you! 14mo
Catsandbooks Sounds excellent! 14mo
Cinfhen Great review!!! #stacked 14mo
batsy Thus book had a lot of love in it ❤️ 14mo
GatheringBooks Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. 💕 13mo
82 likes3 stack adds9 comments
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GatheringBooks
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#ConflictedWorlds Day 16: #PersonVsLover is also keenly felt in this detailed, well-developed, multi-layered, nuanced novel. Memories of Coloma resort in California just a few weeks ago. Grateful to have had the chance to travel during this period. Now safely back in the United Arab Emirates.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks You look beautiful as always ❤️❤️ 1y
Eggs Great photo 🥳📚❤️ 1y
46 likes2 comments
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GatheringBooks
America Is Not the Heart | Elaine Castillo
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#ConflictedWorlds Day 15: #PersonVsInLaws - a lot of in-law drama in this novel that I cannot recommend heartily enough. Superbly executed.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 🙌🏻📚👏🏻 1y
Soubhiville Great photo! 1y
Eggs 👏🏻🍤🍣🧡 1y
46 likes3 comments
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Karmapen
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Pickpick

From the first page of this book I was hooked. Every character gets to be complicated. I had a lump in my throat the whole time. It‘s really sexy, which is confusing because it‘s also extremely maddening and violent and devastating. MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS PLS.

batsy I felt the same! There's so much within it. So rich and chaotic and complex. 2y
5 likes1 comment
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Emilymdxn
America Is Not the Heart | Elaine Castillo
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Tagging one of my fave books about the Filipino community from the small handful I‘ve read! I can‘t recommend this one enough, it‘s one of the best novels about immigration and diaspora I‘ve read recently.

@ChasingOm #integrateyourshelf

JenDR I read Smaller and Smaller Circles a few years ago and rather enjoyed it. 2y
ChasingOm I was trying to remember this one earlier! Stacked. 2y
KVanRead Was just about to post this one too! Still TBR, but it‘s actually our library‘s book selection for Nov/Dec and she‘s going to be doing a Zoom book discussion on Dec. 15 https://sfpl.org/books-and-media/read/same-page-america-not-heart (edited) 2y
Megabooks I loved this one (note: it is not the graphic novel) 2y
62 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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JoyBlue
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Mehso-so

I had high hopes for this one. A couple/few segments were impactful. Overall, though, I thought it was exceedingly long without being particularly engaging. I didn't connect with or like any of the characters. There's a lot of discussion about food and sex, but nothing especially deep or emotional. If the parts that mattered (their experiences) were developed more, I think it could have been stunning.

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kammartinez
America Is Not the Heart | Elaine Castillo
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Pickpick

Full review (?) here: https://wp.me/p21txV-FT

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ of 5 ⭐️s

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kalinichta
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My 2019 reads. I read as many books over the whole year as some of you read on one month, but I exceeded my (admittedly low-balled) goal, so I'm good with that. The definite standouts were America Is Not The Heart and Autumn.

batsy I see a few in here that I loved ❤️ 3y
kalinichta @batsy It certainly wasn't a bad reading year. Not a lot of "empty calorie" books. 3y
19 likes2 comments
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alisonrose
Mehso-so

This novel has some beautiful writing and a lot of quotable lines, & I appreciated getting a glimpse into an immigrant experience we haven‘t seen much of in literature. The family dynamics are authentically complex, & I liked the use of languages I‘m totally unfamiliar with. However, this was overwritten & just too long for the story it actually told, & the pacing was hard to work with. I wanted more from some parts & much less from others. 3/5 ⭐️

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alisonrose

Hero had never even felt ambivalence toward Pol, never in her life. She‘d only ever known what it felt like to love him, to keep the minor altar of admiration for him in her heart well cleaned, its flowers rotless and blooming. What she hadn‘t known was that her love was a room, cavernous, and hate could enter there, too; curl up in the same bed, blanketed and sleep-warm.

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alisonrose
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33 likes1 stack add
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alisonrose

This was—small talk, Hero thought to herself. Though why people called it small, she didn‘t know. The effort it scraped out of her felt immense, exhausting, like she should have studied for days beforehand just to be ready for it, like she‘d need to sleep a dreamless sleep all night just to recover from it.

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alisonrose

White people always thought they were full of toxins, so you could make a lot of money just by claiming to be able to remove them.

[LOL it‘s true though. FYI 1) you have organs specifically designed to do this, and 2) if you were actually full of “toxins” you‘d be dead.]

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alisonrose

You‘re getting tired of holding up the weight of your own desires.

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alisonrose
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After a crap book, I try to pick one I feel extra sure I‘m going to enjoy, & this sounds right up my alley. From the synopsis: “An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, & an uncanny ear for the intimacies & shorthand of family ritual, [this book] is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream & the unshakable grip of history.” YES PLS.

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kalinichta
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Pickpick

I finished this book a day or so ago, and I miss it. I especially miss spending time with Hero. This is a slow, quotidian book, which may not be attractive to some readers, but I feel is perfect for the story of a woman who is just learning to be human again after her world ends, and a snapshot of a Filipino-American community in 1990s Northern California. I loved it.

batsy Yes to everything in your review! Loved it for those reasons. 4y
kalinichta @batsy I've been spending the past couple of days trying to find something to read that would hit that same spot. 4y
AndjoSant Attended her talk at the Sydney Writers Festival & bought her novel on the spot, 4y
AndjoSant Can‘t wait to sink my teeth into it, great to see Filipinx authors coming to the fore 4y
kalinichta @AndjoSant Very cool. Hope you enjoy it! 4y
13 likes1 stack add5 comments
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lalatiburona
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Reading this made me crave food I know nothing about so I ordered some 😍😍😍

17 likes1 stack add
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suzisteffen
Pickpick

This was a five-star book right up until it lost momentum around 3/4 of the way through, & then I‘d call it a four, so, like, 4.5 ⭐️. Disagreed about almost everything the reviewer for #ToB2019 said about this layered, deeply sad, loving, messily & barely hopeful novel. Major queer rep all the way through, btw. And, well, a lot more (if quietly) about the US‘ responsibilities and horrors in the Philippines. #Pinoy #Filipina 🏳️‍🌈💪🏽

batsy Great review. And I disagreed with the ToB reviewer, as well! 4y
suzisteffen * a lot more than I have read about before, including in the excellent 4y
suzisteffen @batsy As a critic, I try never to say “DID WE READ THE SAME BOOK” because obviously, each person‘s experience with a book is separate, and in short, no, but MY GOODNESS, I was confused by her take on this book. Also, I REALLY need to read a lot more #PinoyLit. 4y
suzisteffen Gosh, I keep thinking about this book, class, and colonialism. There‘s a scene in a restaurant that is incredibly revealing - about Spain - but I don‘t want to say too much. HOWEVER, it‘s utterly clear and subtle at the same time, and the author NEVER refers to it again. But I can‘t stop thinking about it, so I guess it worked! 4y
13 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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suzisteffen
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“What interested Teresa wasn‘t power, or wasn‘t only power. It was change. Not change in the grand or demonstrably transformative sense, but change in the tectonic sense; change in the tectonic duration. Teresa accepted the title of the kumander but kept the parameters of the role loose, so that people had the sense not that they belonged to something that already existed and wouldn‘t exist without them, greater then their individual lives —

suzisteffen (Cont.) “but rather, that they belonged to something that depended on them every day to survive; something that they were also in the process of making, slowly and clumsily on a small, small, practically imperceptible scale. A few pieces of cracked earth, side by side: rubbing, shivering against each other. An eternity or two later, you had a volcano.” 😍😍😍😍😍 4y
suzisteffen This book is wonderful. 4y
10 likes2 comments
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suzisteffen
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Starting this library book now! #springbreak #novel #amreading #NPR

15 likes1 stack add
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Readerann
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Mehso-so

My first on The Tournament of Books short list (I‘m attempting to read most of them). Although Hero‘s story should have been fascinating, something about the writing style didn‘t draw me in and I never really connected with her. #ToB

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suzisteffen
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Just put this on hold. Can‘t wait! Also can‘t believe it has to go up against There There in the #TOB2019. 😱 WHAT IF I LIKE ALL OF THE BOOKS.

BkClubCare I need to get my hands on There There, it seems... 4y
13 likes1 comment
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BkClubCare
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First round #TOB2019! I am always a bit shy abt commenting but I LOVE reading the insights and opinions of the commentariats. I am now excited to read AiNtH and I want to try the audio of A Terrible Country. Not disappointed Speak No Evil doesn‘t advance yet appreciate the discussion on this book. My favorite booknerd time of the year. Anyone disappointed? Excited for today? Big thank you to @Ruthiella for sharing so much of the fun with me

Ruthiella I would have advanced A Terrible Country personally. I understand the love for American is not the Heart but I found it to be too unstructured for my tastes! 😀 4y
Ruthiella PS Nice T-shirt!🐔 4y
See All 6 Comments
thebluestocking Love the rooster shirt! As always, the Tournament is doing crazy things! Today‘s decision in particular surprised me. 4y
BkClubCare @thebluestocking - right?!? I was sad that the judge didn‘t even seem to appreciate Milkman even if they didn‘t like it. 4y
BkClubCare @thebluestocking - @Ruthiella was so kind to send me this rooster tee! Which reminds me - I bought another one for myself. (I should have bought her one! Aaash - I‘ll buy her a book...🤪) 4y
23 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Jolynne
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Pickpick

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of love, hardships, and family of three Filipino women, one actually being a very precocious child, Roni, she was quite a treat.

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ReadingEnvy
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Pickpick

This was a great read about a Filipino woman who is a refugee from living as a political prisoner for ten years. She finds home and family in a Filipino community in California and even finds love. I learned a lot! .

64 likes2 stack adds
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Emilymdxn
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Pickpick

Loved this book! Perhaps a tiny bit difficult to follow how characters were related to each other in places, but the sense of character and community was so strong, and I adored how immersed I felt in these people‘s lives. I‘m so in love with how many wonderful, complex books about immigrants‘ lives are coming out right now.

Not my favourite of #tob2019 but still a wonderful book

53 likes1 stack add
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Mindyrecycles
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These are all #tob2019 except The Children Act which is for book club. Doubt I‘ll finish all but gonna try. #februarytbr #literarylove

BarbaraBB Great stack! I am reading the same books (ToB) and have also read the McEwan. One of his best in my opinion💕 4y
cathysaid @Mindyrecycles @BarbaraBB This is the first year I have paid any attention to the #tob list and I‘m loving it! 4y
101 likes2 comments
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Emilymdxn
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Next up is one from the #tob2019 list! Excited for this one

54 likes1 stack add
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Rachel_nyc
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Pickpick

There is so much I liked about this book, particularly the insight into what it was like in the Philippines during the Marcos years (though I would have liked even more of those flashbacks) but also the peek into the daily lives of Filipino immigrants in California. My one qualm is the author created an incredible character in the prologue and then relegated her to the background. I would have loved to have some of Paz‘s POV. #ToB2019 #ATY2019

BarbaraBB I remember @batsy writing a great review too of this book. I need to get a copy! For what #ATY2019 prompt did you use it? 4y
Rachel_nyc @BarbaraBB I used it for ATY rejects category of set in a small town or village but it would work for set in the Far East since it is partially set in the Philippines. 4y
batsy I agree! I'm hoping for another book on Paz ❤️ 4y
See All 6 Comments
Rachel_nyc @batsy I would love that! 4y
Rachel_nyc @BarbaraBB I just noticed that this is also a NYPL staff pick so it could work for that prompt for ATY. 4y
BarbaraBB Thanks! I am reading the prompts in order, maybe it‘ll be just in time - depending on if and how long this one makes it in the ToB! 4y
13 likes6 comments
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aealair
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Mehso-so

There were some really great bits of writing in this but I had several issues with it as well. The pacing was kind of all over the place, the untranslated bits of Filipino languages were distracting. I felt like I was missing a lot of context going into this with no knowledge of Filipino culture and history, which affected my ability to get into the story.

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Tonton
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Pickpick

Amazing and illuminating story of the Philippine immigrants and the American Dream. We follow Hero and Roni and their extended families and their struggle to pursue a good life. I have identity issues (biracial) so a lot of issues resonated. Very highly recommended, especially now.

batsy I loved it too 💜 4y
Lindy This one was already on my TBR after hearing the author at the Vancouver Writers Fest in October. 👍 4y
32 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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BookishTrish
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Such synergy between the author and her co-panelists Amitava Kumar and Sisonke Msimang at #VWF2018 tonight in a discussion on finding home ❤️

rockpools Sounds fantastic! 4y
63 likes1 comment
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Lindy
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Yesterday at Vancouver Writers Fest “This Is America“ with three non-white American authors, McClelland & Stewart publisher Jared Bland opened by asking, “What‘s happening in America?”
Elaine Castillo: Dumpster fire.
Tommy Orange: Trumpster fire.
Together with Amitava Kumar, the writers spoke of Trump as an unsurprising symptom of what‘s been happening for centuries in the American empire: colonialism, white supremacy, police brutality. #VWF2018

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UrsulaMonarch
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“Revert back” drives me crazy, but do you think it‘s just becoming standard usage?

Brooke_H I‘m an editor, and I would definitely delete the “back” every time! 4y
kgriffith It has, and it‘s definitely one of the ones that irk me. Language evolves, yes, but it should be to clarify and further define, not DEvolve to accommodate error. 4y
sisilia Oh gosh, I clinch whenever I hear/see the use of “revert” this way. It is so wrong! And there‘s “irregardless” 🙄 4y
See All 6 Comments
UrsulaMonarch @Brooke_H 👏 keep up the good work!!💚 4y
UrsulaMonarch @kgriffith great point! I like that direction... as opposed to redundancy 😣 4y
UrsulaMonarch @sisilia YES!!! I haven‘t seen that one in published work... yet?!😱 4y
40 likes6 comments
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callielafleur
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Pickpick

Cleaning time means audiobook time! An interesting story about a woman immigrating from the Philippines, going back and forth in the story between her old life and her new. I listened to the audio of this, because the narrator is also Filipino (as is the author). Lots of the culture and history was woven throughout. Also, the main character is LGBTQ+, so this fulfills that category for #Booked2018. Overall I give it 4 stars.

readordierachel How did you like the narration? 4y
Reviewsbylola I‘ve got this on my TBR! 4y
See All 8 Comments
BarbaraTheBibliophage Sounds interesting! Good job on the prompt completed. 👏🏻👏🏻 4y
Cinfhen Sorry, I somehow missed all your tags 😾🙀 4y
callielafleur @Cinfhen you are forgiven! 😁 4y
Cinfhen Thank you 😘😘😘 4y
Cinfhen I know why!!! I think the comma is throwing off my Litsy handle!!! Try it next time without that comma☺️😉🙃 4y
89 likes8 comments
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callielafleur
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Doing battle with my overgrown vegetable garden with this in my ears. Note to self- put tomato cages on the plants before they get to be as tall as me. 😂🍅😂

Scurvygirl I did the same thing this year...🙄 5y
callielafleur @Scurvygirl I'm glad it's not just me! I feel like such a dummy gardening sometimes. 5y
89 likes2 comments
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batsy
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Pickpick

This is a love letter to Filipino people, history, & culture. After the grim satire of alienation in My Year of Rest and Relaxation, my heart felt bruised & worn. This was like a balm that made me believe in people again. The novel moves back & forth between early 90s Milpitas in the US to Philippines under the Marcos regime & the ever-present spectre of American imperialism. Circumstances finds the protagonist, Hero, exiled in the US. (cont'd)

batsy This a sprawling book that takes its time. It isn't a tidy, tightly-plotted novel with small ambitions; it covers a vast amount of Filipino history & culture & drops you straight into its languages without holding your hand. Queer love & desire, toxic families & unexpected allies within families—Castillo has written a big-hearted debut about politics, love, family, & friendship. What are we, really, without the people who have cared for us ❤️ 5y
BiblioLitten Brilliant review, Batsy! 💖🙋 5y
Kalalalatja Great review! 👏 5y
See All 23 Comments
saresmoore Wonderful review, friend! This is a subject that I‘ve long wanted to know more about. Thank you for sharing. ♥️ 5y
Ms_T Stunning review ❤️ 5y
batsy @saresmoore Thank you, Sara. It's a structurally imperfect book with a grand scope that might not work for everyone ... But my heart just felt so full after reading it. 5y
rohit-sawant Such a stellar review! 🙌🏻 Stacking! 5y
batsy @rohit-sawant Thank you! 5y
mcipher Your reviews are always so awesome! 💚 5y
CSeydel I always enjoy your reviews. So well articulated and thoughtful. 5y
batsy @mcipher @CSeydel Thank you both so much, so kind of you ❤️❤️ 5y
Reggie Lovely. 5y
batsy @Reggie Thanks! 5y
Centique Wonderful review! I love the sound of this - I‘m all for novels with lots of heart 💕 Stacked for sure 🙌 5y
DivineDiana Agree with @Centique ! Stacked! 5y
batsy @Centique @DivineDiana Thank you both! I hope you enjoy it if you give it a go 💕 5y
MoniqueReads305 Lovely review stacked 5y
batsy @MoniqueReads305 Thank you :) 5y
Tonton On my TBR list; just moved up! Thanks 5y
batsy @Tonton Great, I hope you enjoy! 5y
108 likes9 stack adds23 comments
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suvata
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Mehso-so

Personally, I had very mixed feelings about this book and really shouldn‘t give it more than 2.5 stars but I‘ll round up because I liked the characters. I can‘t see myself recommending it to anyone though.

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Liberty
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Hooray, it‘s time for the @deweysreadathon! I have my first book picked out, my reading nest made, and the appropriate attire for an all-nighter. Have fun, everyone!📚

KarouBlue Your reading nook is a couch! That‘s genius! 5y
TheNerdyProfessor This book is on my list. I'm eager to see if you like it! 5y
Liberty @kbfollmer I loved it! 5y
rather_be_reading heck yes!! that shirt 😍😍 5y
140 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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suvata
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I think this will be the first book I‘ve read about the political upheaval in the Philippines. I heard about it at https://www.nypl.org/blog/2018/07/11/your-mark-get-set-librarian-podcast-ep-99. Discussion to air August 9.

callielafleur I just grabbed this on audio! 5y
57 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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emtobiasz
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Anybody listen to the podcast The Librarian Is In? They just announced a read along with this book, and I‘m thinking about joining in... Discussion episode drops August 9 if anyone else wants to join!

Kerrbearlib I love that podcast! 5y
46 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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MrBook
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#TBRtemptation post 2! This debut novel was recently released. 3 generations of women in an immigrant family work to reconcile their new home with the one they left behind. Hero de Vera comes to America after being disowned by her family in the Philippines. She gets a fresh start with her uncle in the Bay Area. The story illuminates the Philippines' violent 1980s & '90s, and the families who resettled in US suburbia. #blameLitsy #blameMrBook 😎

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tholmz
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Pickpick

Oh, this lovely book. It admittedly took me a little while to keep track of who was related and how, but after that, I fell completely in love with each character. This is the kind of book that left me feeling like I made new friends.

rockpools Lovely review and I agree! Whenever I picked it up, I felt glad to be back. 5y
tholmz Definitely something I‘ll read again in a few years! And probably continue to learn so much from. 5y
9 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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rockpools
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Pickpick

This is a really beautiful book.

You hurtle through Pacita's early life in the Philippines. And then she grows up, moves to the US, becomes distant, a mother, wife, aunt, working 16-hour shifts. And Hero takes centre stage, recently arrived, caring for Paz's daughter in exchange for a roof over her head & no questions. We learn her story through flashbacks; as she gradually opens up to new friends, she builds a family & a life for herself. 👇

rockpools Castillo's writing is urgent. This is a multilingual world - you can't expect to understand every word said. She plays with time, some sections racing, others moving more slowly. Even the minor characters seem fully formed, with backstories. But what I loved the most were her depictions of friendship, messy, complicated and real. 5y
rockpools I received a copy of this via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This'll be my first for #netgalleytbrattack. And if you're planning a book about the #Philippines for #ReadAroundTheWorld, this isn't a bad place to start. 5y
TrishB Great review 👍🏻 5y
rockpools @TrishB Thank you! Too many words! But I liked it. 5y
TrishB I could tell 😁💕 5y
51 likes1 stack add5 comments
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rockpools
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I love how Castillo writes about #friendship so I'm using this to check another prompt for #booked2018.

Her friendships are urgent, and extend to/through family and made-family, to/through lovers and exes. No-one is dismissed as 'just friends'.

@Cinfhen @4thhouseontheleft @BarbaraTheBibliophage

Cinfhen This sounds like an interesting read, I know very little about the Philippines! Thanks for sharing😁 5y
42 likes1 comment
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peacegypsy
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Welcome to the weekend! My first book for Friday. 😃

rockpools It's so good! 5y
peacegypsy @RachelO Good to hear! Thanks! 😊 5y
42 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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rockpools
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What's with these publishers approving me for things straight away? Surely I'm supposed to 'prove myself' first?

Not that I'm complaining, you understand. Massively excited to read this one.

My excuse is I'm packing to move, so in the process of boxing up my print books, and returning all my library books, so ebooks are the thing. To be fair, it's a RUBBISH excuse!
#NetGalley

batsy Ooh, lucky you. I used to follow her writings on Tumblr and greatly admire her work. I can't wait to read this! 5y
rockpools @batsy Your comment on an earlier post might have convinced me to hit the request button 🤔. It looks amazing! 5y
56 likes2 comments