Patron Saints of Nothing
Patron Saints of Nothing

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Annotation: When seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero learns his Filipino cousin and former best friend, Jun, was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, he flies to the Philippines to learn more.
Catalog Number: #200521
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 323 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-525-55491-2 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6610-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-525-55491-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6610-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018044009
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
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.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
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)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* 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 e place of his birth s 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.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (page 323).
Word Count: 79,302
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 12.0 / quiz: 502466 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: 840L
Guided Reading Level: N

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?



Excerpted from Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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.


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