A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Randy Ribay's Patron Saints of Nothing is a powerful and heartrending coming-of-age tale about 17-year-old Filipino American Jay Reguero, who goes to the Philippines to uncover the truth about his cousin's death. Compassion, communication, curiosity, and courage are important themes. Readers will learn about the Philippines' culture and history, President Duterte's violent war on drugs, as well as words and phrases in various Filipino dialects. The war on drugs is a large part of the story, and there are mentions of articles and descriptions of photos that depict some of the gruesome murders happening in the Philippines. The book also mentions that journalists receive threats or are killed in the Philippines if they write any negative articles about the government. There are references to San Miguel beer, marijuana, cigarettes, and "shabu" which is a slang term for meth. Characters have crushes and kiss. Another character is a victim of sex trafficking. Strong language includes variations of "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "dick," and "hell."
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Violence- 3/5 Depictions of gory scenes, vividly described brutal pictures, and story revolves around grief and loss of... Continue reading
What's the story?
In PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING, 17-year-old Filipino American Jay Reguero is almost done with his senior year of high school and planning to attend the University of Michigan in the fall. But things change when he learns that his cousin Jun, his childhood best friend and pen pal, died as a victim of President Duterte's war on drugs. His family hasn't provided many details about Jun's death and refuses to talk about him. Jay can't believe that his cousin would get involved with drugs, so he decides to spend spring break in the Philippines to discover the truth. As family secrets are slowly revealed, Jay learns more about himself, his family, and the side of Jun he never knew.
Is it any good?
Randy Ribay has written a heartrending and powerful coming-of-age novel that explores grief, complex family relationships, and identity. He brilliantly highlights the Philippines' rich culture and history while also exposing some of the horrific issues happening in the country, such as the violent drug war, poverty, and sex trafficking. Although the main reason Jay journeys to the Philippines is to find out how Jun died, he also learns a lot about himself and reconnects with his Filipino heritage. There are many instances where Jay is called out for being too American to truly understand what's happening in the Philippines, but part of Jay's growth and character development involves his learning how to seek out the truth and speak out when injustice is occurring.
Jay's family members grieve differently, some choosing not to show any emotion or acknowledge Jun's death, but a shocking plot twist leads to a poignant moment for the characters to mourn together. As Jay spends more time in the Philippines and details of Jun's life and death are slowly revealed, readers will see the Patron Saints of Nothing is a story of courage, curiosity, communication, and compassion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the heavy themes of Patron Saints of Nothing. Is it important for teens to read Jay's story? Why or why not? How does the book deal with violence, drugs, and poverty? How do these issues affect the characters?
Did you know about President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs in the Philippines before you read this book? Do you think it should be more widely discussed in school?
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