I give all my thanks to JM of Book Freak Revelations for giving me the opportunity to be part of this blog tour. Check out the tour schedule down below and visit the posts of my fellow bookdragons! This book deserves all the love and attention SO PLEASE SUPPORT THIS TOUR AND READ PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING. Thank you very much.
Note: All the quotes used in this post are from an uncorrected proof and are still subject to change.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
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.
TW: loss of a loved one, mentions of animal death, talk of human trafficking, talk of rape and assault, drug abuse, grey area cheating, police brutality
I can speak four languages* (English, Filipino, Waray and Cebuano) but I still don’t have enough words to express just how important this #ownvoices book is to me. Patron Saints of Nothing is not perfect (I had problems with the whole Mia situation because I don’t support gray area cheating) but it’s one of the books that I will never forget in this life. This is truly one of the best books I have read this year and you should read it too.
*edit: I previously said I could speak two local dialects but I have been corrected that Cebuano and Waray are indeed regional languages. Forgive ny blatant ignorance.
5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD READ PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING BY RANDY RIBAY
• Ribay isn’t afraid to talk about difficult issues
Patron Saints of Nothing is an eye-opener. It talks about colorism, privilege, ethnocentrism, drug addiction, religion, and even gives insight on Filipino politics. Some of these subjects are considered as taboo (especially in the Philippines) but Randy Ribay handled them so well.
“The high-rises of downtown Manila are behind us, but the billboards persist, advertising shampoo, fast-food restaurants, new housing developments, local politicians, cell phone plans, and anything else it’s possible to sell. Almost all the models have skin as light or lighter than mine.”
Seeing my country through Jay’s eyes was enlightening. I am a full-blooded Filipina yet I sometimes feel like I’m still a stranger to my own country (it’s hard to admit this but there you go). I haven’t yet seen the full scope of my country’s current state with my own two eyes. This is hugely because I’ve been sheltered most of my life in a peaceful town where we are able to breathe unpolluted air (the farthest . I haven’t even been to Manila so it seemed like I was also traveling with Jay as he trudged through the city to uncover the truth about his cousin’s death.
Patron Saints of Nothing revolves around President Duterte’s war on drugs and I can’t even begin to describe the accuracy of how Randy Ribay portrayed just how much Filipinos glorify this president in the way Jay’s Tito Maning seems to treat him like an otherworldly saint. It pains me that most Filipinos put Duterte on a pedestal and ignore his problematic behavior (saying rape jokes and misogynistic comments, objectifying women, cursing the church). I JUST CAN’T FATHOM WHY PEOPLE TURN A BLIND EYE ON EVERYTHING. It’s my heart’s wish for every Filipino to read this book to realize that there are a lot of negative repercussions to Duterte’s seemingly honorable policies.
• The prose is lyrical and thought-evoking
This might be one of my most-highlighted books of all time. Randy Ribay has a way with words that makes you hold on to every letter until your soul soaks it up completely. Patron Saints of Nothing also includes letters from Jay’s cousin. I especially loved the letters because Ribay established Jun (Jay’s cousin) as this dreamer. I just couldn’t help but hang on to his thoughts and reflect on his opinions.
“People are sick and starving to death in our country, in our streets, and nobody cares. They worry instead about grades and popularity and money and trying to go to America. I don’t want to be another one of those people who just pretends like they don’t know about the suffering, like they don’t see it every single day, like they don’t walk past it on their way to school or work.”
I may have sobbed a hundred times because of the beautiful writing. Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book to convince you that Y’ALL SHOULDN’T SLEEP ON THIS BOOK:
“I am not truly Filipino, so I don’t understand the Philippines. But isn’t this deeper than that, doesn’t this transcend nationality? Isn’t there some sense of right and wrong about how human beings should be treated that applies no matter where you live, no matter what language you speak? I’m alone in this. Somebody needs to clear Jun’s name, even if nothing comes of it. We failed him in life. We should not fail him in death.”
• The characters are relatable
I guess I could relate to all the characters in some degree but I can especially understand Jay with his college struggles. I know it’s not a major plot point but it’s one that truly resonated within me. I will be going to college in a few months and boy do I have a thousand doubts. WHAT IF I CHOSE THE WRONG PROGRAM? IS MY CAMPUS GOOD ENOUGH? WHAT BOOKS SHOULD I BRING TO MY DORM???
Me asking all the important questions ☝☝☝
• It accurately shows Filipino life
My heart just about bursted while reading this because Filipinos hardly get the right representation in the traditional publishing industry and Randy Ribay gave it to us thank you very much. Patron Saints of Nothing accurately portrays Filipino culture from the complexity of our families to our love for karaokes.
Not to mention that this book also made me appreciate my country’s history and culture more than I ever thought was possible. This book depicts the positives and negatives of Filipino culture without sensationalizing anything. These words from Jay really punched me to the gut:
“It strikes me that I cannot claim this country’s serene coves and sun-soaked beaches without also claiming its poverty, its problems, its history.”
• It educates without coming across as preaching
There are a lot of things that you can learn from Jay’s short-yet-life-changing vacation to the Philippines, most of which I will encourage my rusty brain to remember. This is a very powerful book that enlightens readers without coming across as preaching. For one, this book gives emphasis on the importance of spreading the truth and speaking up which really made me do a sudden self-evaluation. This is the kind of book that will make you stare at the wall and think long after you’ve finished reading it.
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What’s the most powerful book you’ve ever read? Is Patron Saints of Nothing in your TBR?