Edited by Cecilia Brainard
PALH, 2003, softcover, 316 pages, ISBN 9780971945807
PALH, 2021, hardcover, 316 pages, ISBN 9781953716002
Finalist National Book Awards Anthology Division in 2005
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Dazzling and Impressive Collection
This collection of 29 stories, the first publication of PALH (Philippine American Literary House) received critical acclaim. Written by established and emerging writers, the book delves into universal but at the same time personal themes of how it is to grow up Filipino. It remains in print and is used by many educators in their classrooms.
In this fine short-story collection, 29 Filipino American writers explore the universal challenges of adolescence from the unique perspectives of teens in the Philippines or in the U.S. Organized into five sections–Family, Angst, Friendship, Love, and Home–all the stories are about growing up and what the introduction calls “growing into Filipino-ness, growing with Filipinos, and growing in or growing away from the Philippines.” The stories are introduced by the authors, who illustrate the teenage experience as they remember it or as they wish to explain it to the reader–whether the focus is the death of a grandparent, budding sexuality, or going to the mall. The cultural flavor aspect never overwhelms the stories, and readers will be drawn to the particulars as well as the universal concerns of family, friends, love, and leaving home. While the stories are fairly easy to read, teens might be intimidated by the dense book design and small type. Take the time to help them overcome this. The stories are delightful!
School Library Journal
These 29 short stories offer a highly textured portrait of Filipino youth and an excellent sampling of creative writing. Thematically arranged, most of the pieces have been written since the turn of the 21st century. Each story is introduced by a thumbnail sketch of the author and a paragraph or two about some element of Filipino culture or history that is relevant to the story. Authors include those born and continuing to live in the Philippines, emigres, and American-born Filipinos. Tough but relevant topics addressed include a gay youth’s affection for his supportive mother, the role of religious didacticism in the formation of a childhood perception, consumer culture as it is experienced by modern teens in Manila, and coping with bullies of all ages and stations in life. While the introduction seems more appropriate to graduate school than high school students, and the layout and book design are not attractive, there is much here to merit consideration. There are more Filipinos living in the U.S. than most people realize, but finding literature reflective of their experiences is difficult. The high caliber and broad but wholly accessible range of this collection, however, makes this title a solid purchase for multiple reasons.
Bookbird Journal International. Children’s Literature, IBBY
by Glenna Sloan,
Emerging and established award-winning writers are the authors of this fine collection of 29 stories about what it means to be young and Filipino in the Philippines and in the United States. Filipinos in America are now the second largest in the umbrella group of Asian Americans, yet there is a scarcity of books by and for Filipinos. This impressive array captures the complexities of both the Filipino culture and history and the realities of the lives of young adults no matter what their ethnic affiliation. Each story is assigned to one of five universal themes: family, angst, friendship, love, and home.
“Cecilia Manguerra Brainard has collected a dazzling and impressive array of 29 stories about the saga of what it means to be young and Filipino. The authors make the experiences of ordinary young people come alive for us. The strength of the collaborative approach in this volume lies in its individual examples, for the best way to construct a picture of growing up Filipino is by specific reference to their lives. The structure of the book is simple enough. Each story is assigned to a theme and there are five of them: family, angst, friendship, love, and home.
Roger N. Buckley, Professor of History and Director, Asian American Studies Institute, University of Connecticut
This volume is indeed about magic, mysteries, sadness, time, family, fear, and happiness of young adult Filipinos. But in exploring these arenas the authors, each a born storyteller and philosopher, collectively capture the natural and social tapestry of the Philippines and Filipino culture and those forces that influence it. Their use of the language with all its idioms, narrative intervals and cadences leaves no doubt about the complexities of the historical, social, cultural, gender and racial terrain of modern Filipino culture. It is hard to resist one more comment. Despite the book’s sub-title, this is also a book for adults. They too will profit from what is a truthful, passionate, hopeful — and ultimately — a very wise book. Kudos to Brainard and the other writers for this important contribution to Filipino/Filipino-American history and culture. This is a powerfully achieved and memorable book by authors who know their craft, and who also have a profound understanding and love for the Philippines and things Filipino.”
Featured in National Geographic’s 2020 Summer Reading List