From Publishers Weekly
Growing up in Manila's materialistic, status-conscious upper class under the Marcos regime, caught between her warring parents, narrator Viola Decanay feels morally rudderless, ashamed of her flat, non-European nose and disdainful of her social inferiors. Despite various connections between Viola's life and the fall of the Marcos administration, and obvious parallels between the tensions that destroy her family and the tensions that divided the Philippines, debut author Romero doesn't fully exploit her plot's potential resonances. The Marcoses' overthrow appears only briefly, as backdrop to Viola's shallow self-dramatizations. What's more, Viola never seems to grow up. When her father is charged with complicity with the corrupt Marcos regime, he sends Viola to her mother, who has fled her husband's indiscretions and made a life for herself in America as an undocumented maid. Blind to her mother's new resourcefulness and independence, Viola finds her life despicable and embarrassing; when Viola's example persuades her mother to rudely reject the "insulting" kindness of an employer, Romero clearly treats this petty vanity as a triumph. Smoothly but predictably written, with blatant symbolism, this first novel does little to reveal the Filipino-American experience or dignify its unsympathetic heroine.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Narrator Viola Dananay was conceived before her parents' wedlock, but the union was not enough to stop her father's philandering ways. When he leaves his family for a pregnant mistress, Viola's mother, Ludy, flees to America in shame, leaving behind her daughter and status as a wealthy Manila socialite to live as an illegal alien in New York City. Viola's father, who has serious political problems, eventually sends her to live with her mother in New York, not knowing that Viola's secret agenda is to return to Manila with her mother in tow. Romero brings a sparkling humor and fresh perspective to her remarkable first novel about family, love, honor, and modern Filipino life in both the Philippines and the United States, revealing an unusual ability to portray dangerous situations in a way that leaves us feeling her characters' strength rather than their fear. Recommended for most collections.?Carolyn Ellis Gonzalez, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.