Book Review | Patron Saints of Nothing

Posted March 15, 2021 by TheNonbinaryLibrarian in book reviews / 2 Comments

Title: Patron Saints of Nothing

Author: Randy Ribay

Publisher: Kokila

Published: 18 June 2019

Pages: 323

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This review contains spoilers! Read at your own risk.

Jay Reguero plans to spend his last semester of senior year playing video games before he goes to the University of Michigan in the fall. But then his dad informs him that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, which includes a “shoot-to-kill” order. No one in the family wants to talk about what happened, rather they just want to cover it with a rug and ignore it. Jay can’t ignore it, so he 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 confront the many sides of his cousin before he can face the truth, along with the part he played in it.

This was a gorgeously written book about an area of the world that I know little about. Jay is a normal American and sometimes he even forgets about that he’s part Filipino, on his dad’s side. Yet, once Jun’s death happens, he decides to spend his Spring Break in the Philippines.

His first stop in the Philippines is at his uncle’s house, Jun’s dad. He already knows that Jun ran away a few years earlier, and of course, the family never talked about that either. Jay feels horrible because he never kept up the correspondence between him and Jun. This part of the book was the most informative for myself as the uncle talks about the history of the Philippines and Duterte’s greatness for the war on drugs. I definitely Googled a lot during this first part of Jay’s trip, having to stop reading to find out more and to learn more. I can definitely empathize with what Jay is feeling during the conversations he has with his uncle.

Due to Jay asking his uncle questions about Jun’s running away and ultimate death, he doesn’t allow Jay to stay with him and forces him to go visit his aunt. I absolutely love the fact that Jay’s aunt is married to a woman. At his aunt’s house, he finds out that when Jun ran away he went to his aunt’s house. Jay’s aunts informed him that the reason Jun ran away was due to Jun’s dad finding drugs in his room. The drugs were weed. During his time here, Jay is able to go to the slums area, with a friend he met through his cousin, Jun’s sister, and her professor comes with them. In the slums, he finds a woman that Jun was with romantically. A woman who was part of a sex trafficking wing and who Jay’s aunt was heping. Part of the reason Jun ran away from his aunts’ house was because he didn’t want them to know about his relationship with her. After this, the trail runs cold. Jun had left her and she didn’t know where he went.

The last part of Jay’s trip is to his grandparents house. At his grandparents are the rest of his family, including Jun’s dad. Here is when we find out the rest of Jun’s story. That he had started using shabu (meth) and he was in a bad place. Sadly, all of this was hard to take in for Jay and Jun’s sister, but they decided to continue to fight. She decided to continue to show the world the people who live in the slums and the ones who are being wrongly killed by Duterte’s police.

The amazing part of the story is that in the end, Jay does talk to his father. He discusses why he wants to take a gap year and go back to the Philippines. He discusses how he feels about Jun’s death and what led up to it. The whole story is wonderfully written and there is such amazing growth for Jay. If someone does drugs, it doesn’t mean that they deserve death. There is so much more going on in a person if they have an addiction, a lot more than just one choice. There are many choices and disappointments that lead to a person to go down the path of addiction. The best we can do is be there for them, to help them however we can, by telling their stories.

Happy Reading Darlings!

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