Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay [in Booklist]
Until his cousin Jun was murdered, Jay thought little of his Filipino heritage. A Michigan senior headed to university in the fall, Jay’s been on auto-pilot for most of his 17 years. Similar in age, Jun and Jay stayed avid pen pals after childhood visits until Jay stopped responding in high school. The family isn’t really talking about what happened to gentle Jun, but the internet reveals plenty about President Duterte’s draconian anti-drug policies.
With spring break approaching, Jay convinces his parents to send him to the Philippines. Among his extended family – especially within Jun’s immediate family – no one seems willing to even utter Jun’s name. Jay’s determined to find answers.
Ramón de Ocampo, who like author Randy Ribay (After the Shot Drops, 2018), is Filipino American, is an optimal cipher, effortlessly navigating among vernacular English, Tagalog-infused accents, and native Tagalog conversations. His fluency across continents and cultures facilely manifests across Jay’s sizable Filipino clan, from his militant uncle, gay aunties, and wary cousin, to Jay’s oblivious American best friend, his distracted older sister, and others. Thoughtful and thorough, Ribay and de Ocampo meld coming-of-age drama, family dysfunction, and contemporary sociopolitical awareness into a riveting thriller with affecting results.
Readers: Young Adult