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Patron Saints of Nothing
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Patron Saints of Nothing
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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."...
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."...
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  • 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 Down
    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.
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    UNANSWERED

    I sleep in on Saturday because I've got no plans beyond gaming with Seth later tonight after he finishes his shift at the sock store. So after what I'll generously call brunch, I shuffle downstairs in my joggers and an old T-shirt, sink into the living room couch, and fire up my PS4 to make some progress in this one-player game where you battle massive robot dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic Earth.

    I don't know how many hours into this session I am when my dad's suddenly standing behind me like he's learned to apparate.

    "Jason, can you pause your game for a second?" he asks.

    "I'm almost at a checkpoint," I say.

    "Jason . . ." he starts and then falters. He tries again. "Jason, I have something important to tell you."

    "Hold on." I know I'm being an ass, but I'm pretty sure this is probably going to be about college or something and I don't really want to talk about that anymore. Plus, I'm in the zone fighting this mech-T-rex that's already killed me, like, a million times.

    "Jay," he says.

    I slide down a hill and draw my bow and arrow, triggering the slow-motion mode. I release two arrows in quick succession. Both hit the beast's energy core, drawing heavy damage and narrowing its HP counter to a sliver.

    "YES!" I say.

    "Your Tito Maning called." He pauses. "Jun is dead."

    My fingers slow, but I keep playing. I'm not sure I heard him right. "Wait—what?"

    Dad clears his throat. "Your cousin Jun. He's dead."

    I freeze, gripping the controller like a ledge. I suddenly feel like I'm going to be sick. On the screen, the mechanical creature mauls my avatar. My life drains to zero. The camera pans upward, mimicking the soul's skyward path.

    The words finally land, but they don't feel real. I was just thinking about my cousin last night. . . .

    "That's impossible," I say.

    I sit up and shift so I'm facing Dad. He's still wearing his nurse's scrubs, and his salt-and-pepper hair is disheveled like he's been running his fingers through it. Behind his glasses, his eyes are bloodshot. I glance at the time again. Mom's at the hospital, and he should be, too.

    "I thought you'd want to know," he adds.

    "When?" I ask, my chest tightening.

    "Yesterday."

    I'm quiet for a long time. "What happened? I mean, how did he . . ."

    I can't say the word.

    He sighs. "It doesn't matter."

    "What?" I ask. "Why not?"

    "He's gone. That's it."

    "He was seventeen," I say. "Seventeen-year-olds don't randomly . . ."

    He takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. "Sometimes they do."

    "So it was random? Like a car accident or something?"

    Dad puts his glasses back on but avoids looking at me. He says nothing for a few beats, and then quietly, "What would it change if you knew?"

    I don't answer because I can't. Doesn't the truth itself matter?

    I should be crying or throwing my controller down in anguish—but I don't do any of this. Instead, there's only a mild confusion, a muddy feeling of unreality that thickens when I consider the distance that had developed between Jun and me. How do you mourn someone you already let slip away? Are you even allowed to?

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2019
    Seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero searches for the truth about his cousin's death amid President's Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs while on an epic trip back to his native Philippines. Shocked out of his senioritis slumber when his beloved cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines for presumably using drugs, Jay makes a radical move to spend his spring break in the Philippines to find out the whole story. Once pen pals, Jay hasn't corresponded with Jun in years and is wracked by guilt at ghosting his cousin. A mixed heritage (his mother is white) Filipino immigrant who grew up in suburban Michigan, Jay's connection to current-day Philippines has dulled from assimilation. His internal tensions around culture, identity, and languages--as "a spoiled American"--are realistic. Told through a mix of first-person narration, Jun's letters to Jay, and believable dialogue among a strong, full cast of characters, the result is a deeply emotional story about family ties, addiction, and the complexity of truth. The tender relationship between Jay and Jun is especially notable--as is the underlying commentary about the challenges and nuances between young men and their uncles, fathers, male friends, and male cousins. Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte's problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth. (author's note, recommended reading) (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 22, 2019
    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.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from June 1, 2019

    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, LLC Used with permission.

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