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Patron Saints of Nothing

by Randy Ribay

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6271638,195 (4.23)6
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.

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Confident five stars. Definite one for the classroom. Please, just read it. If nothing else, google "Rodrigo Duterte" and understand that this story IS real, for so many people.

See full review and more here!

For those who struggle with their identity, their family. For those who have let someone they loved drift away for no good reason. For those who value and seek the truth. For those who are impassioned by injustice. For those who are angry with or horrified by or unaware of government sponsored police brutality around the world. Honestly, it's also just a really powerful, heart-wrenching story.

I saw this and thought, "Yeah that has some serious potential."
Then I read the 5 chapter excerpt from NetGalley, and was already slavering for more.
FINALLY, release day came, and it was everything I had expected and more.

Our characters are complex, so much so that I felt like I had run into them before in classrooms, meetings, or coffee shops. The truth is complex, and that's what this story grapples with, as well. Every part of this story feels real, like it was torn straight from the author's heart.

The shame Jason feels at letting Jun drift away, and at knowing nothing about his home country across the world. The anger he has toward his father for never reacting, never pushing, never caring. The constant surprises and chagrin at being surprised that he faces during his trip - that people living in slums are still living, and still have happiness within them, faces him to confront his own judgments and the inherent biases he has from only being exposed to what is shown to him by Western media.

God, I could go on forever about this book. It's important, it's real, and it will make you cheer, grimace, rage, and so much more. Please, just read it. If nothing else, google "Rodrigo Duterte" and understand that this story IS real, for so many people. (I put this at the beginning AND end of the review, because it's that important and I want to make sure as many people as possible see it.) ( )
  Jenniferforjoy | Jan 29, 2024 |
The writing was really well done, nice character development, interesting settings. The plot was decent, in my humble opinion. I struggled and could not keep up with all the political parts dealing with the Philippines. I know the author is trying to shed light on the plight of the Filipinos but it was just too heavy for me. As someone who suffers from Post traumatic stress disorder and depression and anxiety it was difficult to finish this book. The preview was very promising but it took me a long time to work my way through. I had to force myself to finish this book and I hate that. I really wanted to like it. I appreciate the review copy and will pass it along to someone who may enjoy it more than I did. ( )
  DKnight0918 | Dec 23, 2023 |
This novel offers an effective look at one boy's process of self-discovery and search for identity in the wake of his cousin's death in the Philippines. It looks at the various reasons why people keep secrets and the consequences of making assumptions and not allowing for people to be more than just one thing. Somewhat simplistic in style with straightforward messages (as I expect from YA but always hope for more), but it gets the job done. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Sep 29, 2021 |
"Truth is a hungry thing." (pg 29)

"There are moments when sharing silence can be more meaningful than filling a space with empty chatter." (pg 123)

A thrilling story with a crisp narrative that makes you think and demand change. Patron Saints of Nothing masterfully tackles the bystander who looks at injustice and says nothing. Of course, there are many gut punches and some of the best family moments/dynamics I have seen.

I wholeheartedly recommend and definitely would reread it. I adore the character Jun. Just read the story you will too. this also acknowledges not to idolize a person/have unrealistic expectations. Jun was basically a good Samaritan/arguably a truly Christlike person yet he was still human. Every character felt so realistic because people aren't just black and white. A part of me wishes Jun would've died the upstanding radical activist, but him succumbing to drugs is also an interesting angle

Also, best love story that never was Pfft... Not Mia and Jay *rolls eyes* I'm talking about Jun and Reyna. ;___; ( )
  DestDest | Jul 29, 2020 |
Patron Saints of Nothing is the best YA book of the year so far.

Randy Ribay really knows how to write. His style is clear and straightforward, and the occasional figurative language never feels purple. His pacing is perfect. Jay’s journey and the lessons he learns from it are nuanced, not hamfisted. In one particular, subtle stroke of brilliance, every chapter title consists of the last words of that chapter... until, toward the end of the book, Jay grows less obsessed with Jun’s ending and begins to look to the future. Then the titling pattern changes, mirroring his shifting perspective. Details like that really make this book stand out.

What I appreciated most, however, was Ribay’s compassion for people who are so often overlooked or demonized. I am not Filipino; I have no personal experience with the war on drugs in the Philippines. But I do come from a region in America where opioid addiction runs rampant, and addiction in general runs in my family. My country has had its own war on drugs and has its own messed up preconceived notions of addicts - plenty of people here would rather a drug addict die than receive help. Of course, this book, which takes place mostly in the Philippines, is primarily about addiction and poverty there, not in America. But there’s a moment when Jay, who grew up in the States, realizes that these dangerous ideas - that addicts are societal parasites, that they deserve to be killed or at least do not deserve justice - have been ingrained in him, too, pointing toward an unfortunately universal truth.

Ribay spends the whole book challenging attitudes like this. He does so well, with tremendous empathy. His love for the Philippines - all of the Philippines, including and especially those who live on the margins - shines. This sort of work, this pushing back against the dehumanization of addicts and the impoverished, is important. It’s important, too, to center people of color, and in this case Filipino people especially, who are disproportionately affected by anti-addict policies and rhetoric.

My one quibble with this book is the quasi-romantic relationship between a seventeen- and nineteen-year-old. Jay is at the end of his senior year, so it would’ve been easy to make him eighteen and eliminate that gray area; I’m not sure why Ribay didn’t do that. Maybe because people expect YA protagonists to be 15-17? I don’t know. It was an odd choice. Also, there’s a character who switches from fifteen to sixteen and back again. That’s a small detail, though, and overall this is a fantastic book, beautiful, touching, complex in exactly the way it needs to be. ( )
  livmae | Jul 17, 2020 |
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This is your story

This is your son These

are our sins

and how

did we ever get here

without them

- Patrick Rosal
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It was a day of soil, sunlight, and smoke.
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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.

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