Book Journaling: ‘Patron Saints of Nothing’ by Randy Ribay

by KB Meniado

The Philippine drug war in a YA novel? I didn’t need other reasons to sign up for an ARC of Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. Grateful to Bookworms Unite PH and Penguin Random House International for making me part of this! Check out the launch post and blog tour schedule here, and then let’s go 👇🏿

THE STORY

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. Get a copy: Amazon / Read reviews: Goodreads

It’s BoJo-worthy but is it also Bookshelf-worthy?

Yes x 30,000 or so. Yes, in the name of truth and justice. And humanity. Yes!

Having been born in Davao and now living here again, I get a few judgmental questions and backhanded comments here and there about certain political issues. It’s almost fascinating if it weren’t terrifying, the way some people just outright assume. “Oh you’re from Davao, so you’re… right??” and so on. It’s not black-and-white at all like that, and this book conveys just how much a lot of things are more than what they seem. Case in reference, the atrocity that is the drug war. This story shows how wounds and horrors run deeper and darker, and how plenty of factors—the strengths and pressures of our culture, the illnesses of our society, the suffering and the survival of our people—contribute to the entirety of what this war brings and means to the Filipino. Bonus points for highlights on religion, queer relationships (mainly F/F), treatment of mixed race identity and local life (the food! the travel!). Any sensible reader living in this timeline should be at the very least desperately curious about this book. This story is personal—to me, to you, to every Filipino—and it matters greatly, no matter where you are in the world. Highly, strongly recommended. Prepare to be moved. ☁️

Special thanks to Penguin Random House International and Bookworms Unite PH for the ARC. Excerpts and quotes may not reflect final version (but this review reflects honest thoughts). Patron Saints of Nothing comes out June 18.
Header image by The Ultimate Fangirl. Join the #PatronSaintsPHTour discussion on Twitter on June 22, 8 p.m. PHT.
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