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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
When Michigan teenager Jay learns that his favorite cousin was killed by police in the Philippines for being a drug dealer, something doesn’t feel right. So the 17-year-old embarks on his first solo trip back to his birth country, determined to investigate the situation. Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning mystery that unfolds in the streets and homes of present-day Manila and other Filipino cities. As Jay digs deeper, he finds out that the truth about his cousin—not to mention his family and his motherland—is complicated. Randy Ribay’s gripping young-adult novel is more than just a coming-of-age story; it’s a vivid exploration of grief, guilt, and the immigrant experience.
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.
The Philippines is complicated
This book does an excellent job of portraying difficult realities in the Philippines. No easy answers. Very authentic. As an American who has been to the Philippines many times, I found this book remarkably accurate and insightful.
I’ve been to the Phil a million times far from the cities into the deeper areas of the islands. It’s a sad country in so many ways which was captured so well in this book.