by Randy Ribay
Publishers Weekly 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. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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School Library Journal 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
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Kirkus 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 languagesas "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 notableas 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 expos 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 Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book Senior year, Filipino American teen Jay Reguero learns of his pen-pal cousin Jun's untimely death in the Philippines. Haunted by the lack of information, Jay goes to the Philippines to investigate and eventually connects Jun's death with President Duterte's (real-life) draconian war on drugs. Ribay brings this coming-of-age story to vivid life through themes of addiction, complex family dynamics, and the experiences of children of immigrants. Bib. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list After finding out about his cousin Jun's violent death, Jay Reguero travels from America to the Philippines to uncover how such a gentle person met such a grim end. He finds that the place that he remembers the place of his birth has changed in the face of a sweeping drug war initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte, a war that Jun's father, Tito Maning, enthusiastically endorses. Jay digs into the circumstances of Jun's death, while navigating the sinuous history between family members, including the schism created by his own father's decision to raise his children in America. Jay's investigations are an intriguing setup for what is actually a deep, nuanced, and painfully real family drama. Jay himself is a relatable character for biracial readers straddling two different cultures. This dynamic comes into play both when he tries to convey his feelings to his American friends and when he travels abroad and is treated like an outsider by other Filipinos despite looking the same. Ribay's focus, however, is on showing the current-day war on drugs ravaging Filipino society, characterized by extrajudicial vigilante killings endorsed by the highest levels of government. By deftly weaving key details into Jay's quest for the truth, Ribay provides a much-needed window for young people of the West to better understand the Filipino history of colonization, occupation, and revolution.--Reinhardt Suarez Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.