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Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery Paperback – November 5, 2013
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Recalling the turbulent era of the second Philippine People Power Revolution in 2001, Angel de la Luna is a poetic coming-of-age story about personal loss and the transformative power of political activism. Fifteen-year-old Angel's father was killed in a horrific accident, and with her mother consumed by grief, the teen copes by getting involved in community organizing efforts to depose President Joseph Estrada. Through her grandmother, Lola Ani, Angel also learns about the surviving Filipina "Comfort Women" who suffered atrocities during World War II. Meanwhile, Angel's mother decides to move to America for a better life, promising to send for her daughters. Unable to forgive what she perceives as maternal abandonment, Angel further immerses herself in consciousness-raising and activist work. When her mother eventually sends for her, the teen arrives in Chicago sullen and homesick; she struggles to reconnect with her mother and to bridge cultural differences. While compelling, the novel has some slight shortcomings-large chunks of Tagalog dialogue are interspersed throughout with limited context and no glossary to assist with interpretation. At times, the story feels bogged down by complex themes that potentially overwhelm when combined into one narrative. Yet, the tender generational bonds between Angel and Lola Ani, as well as the teen's staunch feminist awareness, pack an emotional punch and ring true. Galang artfully contrasts political instability in the Philippines with the personal upheaval in a teen's life in a way that will resonate with patient readers.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
The death of Angel’s father has left her mother overcome with grief and Angel feeling doubly alone. When her mother subsequently leaves for the U.S., Angel must take care of her sister and grandmother. Soon she becomes involved with the activist group The Filipina Comfort Women and begins to learn about revolution. When her mother relocates Angel to the U.S., she is forced to unpack the anger and grief that she has hidden away. Galang weaves the tale of a girl’s coming of age with a country’s history as Angel’s life intersects with the 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution and the efforts of the Comfort Women of WWII. The author incorporates English and Tagalog words as well as slang throughout the novel, seamlessly giving readers context clues to discover the meanings of unfamiliar terms and dropping them right into Angel’s world. As Angel grows up, she becomes an activist and discovers more about her family and herself. Galang’s prose has a poetic lilt and her protagonist is a strong one, making this an unusual journey well worth taking. Grades 9-12. --Sarah Bean Thompson
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Top customer reviews
There is plenty to feel in this story. Angel and her family are dealing with the unexpected loss of her father. In the aftermath, her mother pulls away from the family and adds one more loss. The book moves on to other issues though as Angel becomes increasingly involved with politics. She protests the corruption in the government in an effort to overturn the presidency. This section of the book was a little harder for me to follow. I wasn’t always certain what exactly was being protested and why, but even so, Galang’s story pulled me along. Angel, her sister Lila and her grandmother also visit elderly comfort women. These are women who were taken by Japanese soldiers during WWII and were used as sex slaves. The amazing strength of the women in this book and the stories of the comfort women blazed through any confusion I may have had on my first read through.
The beginning of the story centers on Angel’s immediate family and those closest to her. The second portion expands out into the larger community and the final section pulls back in again to a more intimate view of Angel’s inner conflicts. It’s in the final portion that the book felt the most like a young adult novel. In spite of the teen main character, it felt more like an adult novel in the beginning. I still can’t place my finger on why that was true for me, but maybe it was that there was so much that was unfamiliar in that part of the book. Also, when Angel was in the Philippines, she was attending a private Catholic school for girls and that was only part-time. Most of her time was taken up with work, family duties, and politics. She was dealing with adult situations as she stood in for her absent mother. The final section takes place in Chicago with her mother and around high school and her new friends. There was revolution in her political acts in the Philippines, but there almost seems to be more revolution here as she settles into her new situation in the U.S. and certainly in her interactions with her mother.
This is a story of self-discovery, family, hope and healing. There is a lot of pain and heartbreak within these pages, but there is also strength and beauty. Galang’s writing is lyrical and rich – something to savor.
Recommendation: Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery was on the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project List and I am not surprised. This is a book not to be missed. Get it soon. It may require a little extra effort for a reader without the background knowledge or Tagalog language skills, but any effort is totally worth it. Angel and the women in her life will be with me for a long time to come.
Review originally posted at [...]/review...
The plot, up to this point, is not as cut and dry as it appears, and it is not even near the middle of the book since there, indeed, is more to come! Galang masterfully weaves Filipino history -- from World War II (WWII) to the People Power Revolutions -- with the rising tension between Angel and Inay. And of course, this all comes at one of the most inconvenient times in Angel’s life: puberty. Fortunately over the next two years, Mother Mary, of St. Magdalena's school where Angel and her little sister attend, opens Angel's eyes to her country's politically unstable history by introducing her to new words, “words I am going to have to look up -- feudalism, proletarian internationalism, imperialism, bourgeois populism,” and pertinent people, such as the aged Comfort Women, as well as farmers and other workers who are imprisoned for protesting against the Philippine government. Obviously, Mother Mary, who is no stranger to the horrors of WWII, is also an avid protester against injustice. Angel's eye-opening knowledge eventually leads her to protest in the People Power Revolution to overthrow President Estrada in 2001. Though her involvement with the Revolution provides meaning and purpose in her life for the first time in the year since Papang's death, it is short lived when she receives word from Inay that provisions have been made for her to move to Chicago.
Galang’s meticulous portrayal of Angel’s immigrant experience in America is nothing but poignant. Now educated in the truth about how the American government exploited her native country, Angel’s view of "the country of her parent’s dreams," is tainted. In addition to entering foreign territory, Angel feels as if she's been placed into a foreign family: Inay has since remarried and now has a toddler. It doesn’t help that there is a language barrier at school, since the students’ spoken English flows much faster than what Angel had been taught in Manila. Between unresolved conflict with Inay and trying to fit in at school, Angel keeps to herself until she hears the words of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech during Black History month. His words not only encourage Angel to speak up about injustice, but also help her realize that she has the skills to start a protest in her new school. This, of course, gets her in trouble at school, which only compounds her conflict at home. Desperately seeking answers to her plethora of questions about Inay, Angel begins corresponding with her grandmother, the only person who she feels understands her. Indeed, her grandmother has answers and solutions; however, it is up to Angel to seek them out.
Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery is not just a fictional story about a Filipino girl's search for identity. Angel, in many respects, reflects the humanity in all of us. Interspersed with strong language and adult themes, I consider this a heavy read since it is filled with the hard realities of life and deeply profound thoughts, which I recommend for mature young adult readers on up and, definitely, not for the faint of heart. Engaging and visceral, yet compassionate and heartwarming, these are but a few choice words to describe Galang's third in a collection of fabulous books focused on Filipina American issues.
Originally posted on Teenreads.com
Anita Lock, Book Reviewer