Title: Patron Saints of Nothing
Author: Randy Ribay
Year Published: 2019
Publisher: Kokila (an imprint of Penguin Young Readers)
Genre: Young Adult ~ Contemporary ~ Fiction
Links: Book Depository || Goodreads
Disclaimer: I received this e-arc through Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. The image header and the quote edits used are my own. One of the links leads to the book’s Goodreads page, the other one is to Book Depository using an affiliate link. All quotes given in the review are from the e-arc and therefore might not be accurate. The summary is my own (well, I summarised the Goodreads description). All opinions expressed are my own.
Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American teenager, travels to the Philippines after the death of his cousin. His aunt and uncle are not at all willing to talk about what happened, leaving him to piece together the mystery of how his cousin died, what the country’s going through, and how that all connects to his identity.
Content/Trigger Warning: Drug use, addiction, death, death of an animal, human trafficking (discussion of).
FIRST OF ALL, I am not Filipino, so therefore I am unable to speak about the issues addressed in the book. I recommend you search for ownvoices reviews about this book, because it deals with a very real and current and intense issue, which I do not have much knowledge of it. But I did absolutely love and adore this book, which is why I wanted to review it and talk about it.
I LIKED how the book took me along with Jay – I could feel myself sitting in the same room as him, felt his pain, shared his feelings about Jun. And that’s always a way to tell if a book is a favourite – if I am able to be in the same place as the character, if I feel what they feel. I liked seeing the Philippines, I like seeing new places and this book also deals with having to claim your identity, who you are, and what all that means. And while I can’t exactly connect with all of that, I can try to understand it.
JUN was definitely my favourite character, I did really like Jay, but the letters Jun wrote to Jay just took my heart and ran with it. There was so much of Jun that I absolutely loved – his personality, his way of speaking, the way he looked up to Jay, how he started to look at the world as he grew up. And the letters, oh my goodness, I could literally go on for about hours about the letters he wrote. Jun had so much going for him and I think one of the reasons why I like him so much is because this is a case of the character having a lot (to do in their life or a lot to look out for etc) and then by circumstances (whether they be beyond their control or social-environmental); those plans begin to fall apart.
THERE’S this trope – well, it’s sort of a trope but maybe more like a subgenre, or a subject if you will – I like (and I think I usually come across it in movies and series) where the kids/teens get justice or try to get justice. Like they see something’s wrong and they try to fix it. It’s probably because I grew up with Enid Blyton and all her books about kids solving mysteries. And this is important because so often we see things happen and adults do nothing about it and it’s the kids who decide to take action, it’s the kids who see something wrong and want to fight for the right thing. And especially now – in a world where people try to put kids or teens down because
JAY – oh my goodness this boy. I felt so much for him and he just needed to be held!! Like just let someone hold him. He wanted to know more about his family and the culture and what’s all going on. And that even though not everything in his family might be good or that the country has its wrongs and faults, he still wants to claim that identity. He still wants to learn more.
I ALREADY mentioned I spoke about the letters, but I’m going to speak about it again. I loved reading Jun’s letters to Jay. They’re little parts of him (Jun) and then you get to see Jay’s reactions to the letters – rereading them, and how he feels about Jun now and everything going on around him and it’s so good. They deserved to spend more time with each other and I’m sad they didn’t get to do that.
There were so many good ones. I tried to keep it to my usual 3 but then some other quotes popped up and were like “Pick me! Pick me!” So in the end I just chose 6. And two of the quotes basically follow each other, so they’re next to each other.
What did you think of this novel? If you’ve read it? Did you too, like Jun a lot? Give me your thoughts! If you know of any other content/trigger warnings you think should be added, let me know and I will add them in.