Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults Ed Cecilia Brainard




GROWING UP FILIPINO II: MORE STORIES FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Edited by Cecilia Brianard, PALH 2009, 258 pages
ISBN 9780971945838 (sc) $21.95; ISBN 9780971945821 (hb) $29.95


Book Review School Library Journal 2010

This collection of 27 short stories, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Growing Up Filipino (PALH, 2003), reflects the impact of post-9/11 wartime sensibilities among Filipino writers living in the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. Although similar topics of family, memoir, and coming-of-age thread through both collections, the pieces are not grouped by theme, but nevertheless weave a constantly shifting tapestry of Filipino identity. The challenges and conflicts of unique ancestry and struggles for identity provide a rich background for modern urban realism. The brittle memoirs reflected in "Here in the States," "Nurse Rita," and "Hammer Lounge"; original legend in "A Season of 10,000 Noses"; and breathtaking tragedy in "How My Mother Flew," among others, are compelling reading. Some selections have terse, spare language; others are almost commonplace in their apparent simplicity; all capture moments and nuances of the modern Filipino experience that will envelop readers. Brainard has again selected powerful, evocative stories of family: of promises and disappointment, failure and resentment, tenacious and all-consuming love, anxiety and transcendent hope. There is plenty here to stimulate discussion and encourage an appreciation of Filipino writing and culture. This anthology is a worthy successor to the first volume and has appeal to an audience beyond high school literature courses.—Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
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Book Review by Rohnert Park/Cotati Writers 2011

What I like most about folk stories is that they tell us something important about other people. They create specific examples of universal themes that exist in all cultures; they express the uniqueness of a particular time and a particular people that enlightens us all about our own humanity.

This is what I recently experienced after reading Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, a collection of contemporary stories for young adults collected and edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. The 257-page book published by PALH (Philippine American Literary House) was first brought to my attention by fellow writer Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor. A bright writer herself who lives in Washington, she was able to share with me not only the beauty of her own literary work but also the richness of her cultural heritage.

Thanks to her I was allowed into the post 9/11 world of Filipino and Filipino American youth. Through this I was introduced to a culture that admittedly I knew very little about.

I learned through the stories that many Filipino children are raised in a very strong patriarchal system that often over rules the individual child's needs to 'fit in' with the dominant American culture. For example, in 'Double Dutch' (Leslieann Hobayan) when young Maria Elizabeth comes home one day with her hair braided by her African American school friend her family responds by telling her the braids are ugly and she is no longer allowed to play with her friend. I could feel the poignancy of Maria Elizabeth's dilemma as she withdrew from the schoolyard community she enjoyed so much.

Other stories also reveal the hard facts of immigrant life. Alma ('Here in the States' by Rashaan Alexis Meneses) struggles to understand how hard her mother must work as a nanny to make ends meet. Shame and sadness mingle when she questions the discrepancy between her mother's role as a respected professional back home and her new role as a domestic helper. Adolescent resentment and rebellion about having to help care for younger siblings (something the maid back home did) further complicate Alma's efforts to make sense of this new world. It is in her mother's quiet strength and acceptance of life's uncertainties that Alma finds her greatest comfort and connection.

While the book is designed to reflect the issues young adults face, it does much more than that. It reaches out to the rest of us in a way that invites deeper understanding and awareness of how our Filipino and Filipino American brothers and sisters experience life in America. Fraught with the angst of adolescence that exists everywhere and grounded in an abiding sense of strong Filipino family/cultural values, the authors of these stories have something valuable to tell us about our own desires and struggles to belong in whatever world we live in.

We are fortunate to have access to such a formidable anthology. It is certainly a must read for anyone who wants to celebrate our multicultural society. ~ Review by Karen Pierce Gonzalez, Patch Contributor

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Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults Ed by Cecilia Brainard
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