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The Body Papers by Grace Talusan [in Booklist]

Every day she didn’t tell, Grace Talusan thought she was saving her grandfather’s life. “There was a daytime grandfather and a nighttime grandfather, two different people in the same body.” Talusan was 7 when that nocturnal monster began the sexual assaults, which spanned seven years. “I told myself that the pain and sacrifice of my hell moments were required for my family’s success.”

Family was “more important than anything” in Talusan’s extended Filipino American Catholic clan. That they were immigrants meant even tighter bonds, especially when she learns that her father’s student visa, which provided legal U.S. entry when Talusan was 2, is long expired, making deportation a viable threat.

Growing up in a Boston suburb in the 1970s, Talusan faces racism at school, including erasure by so-called friends who insist, “‘I think of you as white.’” As an adult, the threat of cancer – already killing younger and younger relatives – forces radical decisions concerning her damaged body.

Awarded the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Talusan bravely alchemizes unbearable traumas into a potent memoir remarkably devoid of self-pity, replete with fortitude and grace.

Review: “Nonfiction,” Booklist, March 15, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2019


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