Patron Saints of Nothing

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

This book was discussed widely before its initial release. It tackles such serious issues in a manner befitting a YA book, that it cinches its place as something unique and worth reading. 

This is the story of Jay and his sudden discovery that his cousin back in the Philippines died under mysterious circumstances. He had met this cousin only once in person when he was ten (the only time he had visited the country since moving to the US at the age of one) but Jun had a way about him, Jun had started and kept up a series of letters trying and succeeding to connect with someone oceans away but at the same time who share a bond. This jolts the complacency out of Jay who suddenly realises that there are a lot of things about his father's country that he has no idea about, and the death nags at him as does his aimless life. This leads to an impromptu two week 'vacation' to visit his father's family. 

Following the event of his cousin's death, Jay starts to research into the ongoing issues in the Philippines and this brings all the same facts to the reader's attention. It encompasses both history and current events which served as a learning exercise to me as well! It is heartbreaking to walk through the lives of people who are struggling for help and Jay gets to see all sides of the varied lives through his uncles and aunt. The tale tries to approach a lot of ills and put it in one tale, and for the most part, succeeds. There are unfortunately too many things to cover and a few of them felt abruptly fit in to get the point in there. This in no way diminishes the value of the book and I think it will play an important role in raising more questions in all people (young and old) and make everyone curious about how everyone else lives. In this digital world when every kid a certain age lives and breathes the same Peppa pig (for example) regardless of the country they live in, or the language they speak at home, it is easy to assume everything else stays the same as well. Cultural variations do exist and hopefully will continue to do so just to ensure variety. It was fascinating to get to know a whole new culture that I had never read about before and see the subtle similarities even in the current generations with my own. I only mention the abruptness and the eagerness to get a lot in only because it kept this from being a five-star read for me. I would highly recommend everyone give this book a shot.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.
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Prior to reading Patron Saints of Nothing, I knew very little about what is going on in the Philippines right now. I cannot express how happy I am that I picked up this book, as it encouraged me to learn more about the situation.

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the book and the events that happen in it, so I would suggest checking out other people’s reviews. From what I’ve seen from friends on Twitter, though, this book has really hit home and is saying some powerful things.

Patron Saints of Nothing follows Jay, an American boy whose father is from the Philippines. Jay is struggling to connect with that side of his roots, and it’s not until he hears about his cousin’s death that he wants to travel to the Philippines and figure out what went wrong.

There was a lot of abuse – both emotional and physical – in this book, and it was difficult to read about. There are other dark themes, such as murder and drug use, and to be honest it was all really quite sad. 

As usual, I didn’t care for the main romance in the book. It’s not just because I don’t like romances, it’s also because there was some low-key cheating in there too. Not a fan. That said, there was some (some) LGBTQ+ rep in there, which I appreciated.

Overall, I think Patron Saints of Nothing is a fantastic book, and the fact that a lot of bloggers from the Philippines are praising it so highly means it’s a hit with me.
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Boy, am I emotional. This book tore my chest open and pulled my heart out but it also gave me immense hope. Following Jay through his journey towards finding what happened to his cousin and closure was a ride.

The letters between Jay and Jun really were the cherry on top because I couldn't help but bawl my eyes out while reading them. Jun was described as such a sweet person who always comforted others and put their safety over his. 

It was eye opening seeing things as jarring as what was happening in this book being an everyday thing for another part of the world. It's quick and easy to think something of one person but through this book you find out that everybody's not one thing. We hold on to our perception of people and we can't think of them otherwise, which leads us to either romanticize or demonize them.

Overall this book was everything and more I expected. The endless quest to finding out the truth and what's best for us, even though it's tough, is a prominent thing for this book and I couldn't have loved it all more.
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4.5 stars

I requested a copy from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

A look at the Philippine drug war in the eyes of a Filipino-American presents a unique, if not different take on the subject. It offers the views of someone who is very much removed from the situation, at the same time who has some right to voice out an opinion because at the end of it all, they are still countrymen. Writing in the perspective of a teenager also gives the novel a chance to present a idealistic and righteous view, while acknowledging views that could be glossed over for the teenager simply because of his lack of knowledge on how the world works - or at least how the world really is beyond what media reports or how his elders present them to be. 

This was a well-written novel that presents different sides to a story the main character is trying to unveil. The different characters and personalities he encounters offers contrasting or conflicting views, with their narrative challenging his own based on what he knows about his cousin, and the story behind it all. Some parts were hard to take, as it not only touches on the war in drugs/killings in a passive way, but how it affected multiple people in a personal way.
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Brilliant story, fantastic character and I cannot put this book down until the end. Highly recommended to teenagers in Year 9 and above.
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I think I got to know about this book because a blogger friend mentioned it way back! Then I got to know that it was available to request on NetGalley and I did it impulsively to be honest. I didn’t really know much about the book except for the fact that it was about a biracial boy dealing with the reality of being raised American but also being Filipino as well. It was something very much out of my comfort zone but I am glad that I dared to request and the publisher granted my wish.

I would like to say first that I wouldn’t know the struggles of a biracial person and that I really don’t know what it’s like for people in America and the Philippines but this one really opened my eyes to the problems. I still don’t know much about them but at least, now I am aware about them in certain ways and I have to admit that I am sad about it all. It’s just so…maddening but I am glad that these things are coming to light for the international readers through books like these.

Now onto the actual book. I think it was amazing in every sense of the word. It brought forth so many points about so many things that I was frankly unaware of and it made me search more about those topics. For me, that’s when a book has long surpassed any expectations I had of it. It made me Google things. On a more serious note, this book tackled so many difficult matters and in a way that felt natural and well-nuanced. I think, that’s one of the hardest obstacles with books that deal with such topics.

Jay, as a teenager felt real and his life in US and his disconnect with his own culture was done wonderfully. While Jay was re-learning about his culture and traditions, I learned a lot of about Filipino culture. The pain, shock and just general grief that Jay had for Jun was so raw and then I learned about the Drug War and I was just so angry. I feel like more than the plot or even some of the characters, this book taught me something I had been ignorant about and I can’t help but be grateful for that.

The fact that while Jay is learning more about his own culture, he does make mistakes and he does get called out. His own perceptions about his childhood, his family and the Filipino people changes throughout the book and that growth was so good to see. Him being a first generation Filipino-American made sense in trying to ease the reader into realising the problems Filipino people have facing for a while.

Then there’s the a few bits I did have problems with. The romantic interest. What purpose did it serve? Mia could have been a great character on her own, I didn’t see any chemistry and frankly, I wasn’t at all invested in how it all turned. Sorry. Then there’s the character of Tito Maning. Oh, god. That one infuriated me to no end but the thing is, I have seen far more adults with that sort of mindset, I wish there were more people who were shown to be just as problematic. Oh well. I must admit to really relishing being angry at Tito Maning so I shouldn’t complain.

Overall, I think this book was thought provoking and enlightening about what’s actually been happening in the Philippines and how it’s anti-poor. How all of this had somehow escaped my knowledge for so long. The writing is really great and so is the character growth. So if you are at all thinking of picking this one up, don’t hesitate! Just do it!
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*4.25 Stars*

Jay is a bit lost as his senior year is coming to an end, especially when he finds out his Filipino cousin has just died. He decides to fly back to the country he was born in but hasn't been to in years. As he is staying with his family, he does everything to find out what really happened and discovers what his birth country really is like.

This was really good. I enjoyed following Jay's journey. The characters were layered and interesting and I flew through the book. The plot really kept me hanging on and I felt a lot. I just didn't connect with the characters like I could have had. It was a great book though.
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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley!

It’ll be very easy for me to just say ‘Please go read this book. It’s important and you can learn so many things from it’ and leave it at that. But I won’t. I’ve rated many books highly in the past and loved them, but none have struck a chord as personal and close to my heart as Patron Saints of Nothing. This book left me enraged and in tears on several levels- from the characters, to the plot, to the very real problems at the heart of the society shown in this book, the very same society and culture that I live in.

This is a book all Filipinos, whether in the Philippines or overseas should read. It’s gripping and painful and sometimes hard to read, but very powerful all the same. As someone who wants to become a human rights lawyer, this book angered me but also made me even more motivated. Ribay portrayed the injustices in this country accurately and his characters made me realize that everyone can make a difference, no matter how small. For that, I’d like to thank the author for shining a light on our country’s problems.

The book is narrated through Jay, a biracial Filipino-American who came to the country in order to find the truth about what happened to his cousin, Jun. What he finds takes some unexpected turns and leads him to question his own biases and what he knew about his cousin.

Patron Saints of Nothing portrayed Filipino culture very well and showed both the good and the bad. Jay’s family is very divided on the drug war, in the same way that many Filipino families are, and they also showcase different personalities and quirks that you can see in many Filipinos- the famed hospitality, kindness, and perseverance, but also the narrow-mindedness, bigotry, and blind nationalism are present in many of the characters you can see here. Seeing all these different personalities through Jay’s eyes was refreshing.

The humanization of the drug war was what sealed this book’s place in my heart. At the beginning of the novel, Jay thinks that 17-year old boys don’t just die. In this country, there have been multiple news about the minors that get caught up in the drug war. Often, they were described in terms that may be meant to reassure but only leaves a bitter and disgusting taste in the mouth- collateral damage. As if people were numbers, as if they died for some greater good (they did not). That’s if they were lucky. If not, some would try to justify their killings by saying that they were drug dealers, as if that makes it right.

In this book, Jay assumes that Jun didn’t deserve to die because he was an innocent boy. He was proven wrong. He didn’t deserve to die because he was human and his life mattered. Because he was caught up in circumstances that were beyond his control, circumstances that were the root cause of the problem that the government is “trying” to solve. In the end, it always comes down to the poverty that continues to haunt this nation and prevent it from truly growing. Poverty that keeps people in a terrible cycle that continues through generations and demonizes and dehumanizes them.

Patron Saints of Nothing showed us the human side of a war on the poor.

Jay’s determination to find the truth and seek justice truly struck a chord in me, as well as Grace’s love and respect for her Kuya Jun. I loved how she fights in her own way and continues his work, honoring his memory. The quiet resilience and strength of Grace’s character was very inspiring and she really embodies the kind of spirit that we Filipinos are known for. I’m glad Jay wasn’t shown to be a savior-type character and any notions of that were shut down. No one person can solve societal problems, but everyone can do anything that helps.

Tito Maning was a complex character. Yes, I do dislike his character very much and I hated how he treated his son, but he wasn’t really a black or white sort of character. He had shades of gray too, and we do see that in some way, he did care for his son. Maybe in the end he was blinded by loyalty to Duterte and maybe the desire for power, but he was an interesting character. I would say however that his brash attitude, narrow-mindedness, and arrogant blind nationalism is something we could see in so many people today. Most of us probably have a Tito Maning in our lives.

Overall, Patron Saints of Nothing was a raw, powerful, and gritty novel that everyone should read. It humanizes those involved in the drug war, and really inspired me to fight for what is right and to continue on the path of becoming a human rights lawyer. I can recommend this to everyone. Please, read this book.
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Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay is a powerful coming of age story that is unafraid to tackle several thorny issues heads on. 
Our protagonist is Filipino- American teen Jay who is on the verge of finishing high school and trying to drum up some excitement about starting college in the Fall. He's a very ordinary guy, not an exceptional athlete or scholar, he spends time hanging out with his friend and playing video games. When his father arrives home one day with the shocking news that his cousin Jun has died in the Philippines , and that he was in fact shot by the police as part of campaign against drug dealing , he is both confused and devastated. The two boys became close as children , and though they had drifted apart with time, Jay still feels an urge to travel back to his father's homeland and try to discover the full story of what really happened. Just as no person is one dimensional, no story has only one side, and as Jay's quest continues he risks the wrath of his Uncle and learns that the truth may be far more difficult to come to terms with than he ever imagined.
Coming into this book I knew nothing about President Duterte of the Philippines, or his controversial "war on drugs" and the thousands of lives it has cost., and I found it truly shocking. I admire the author for shining a spotlight on such an enormous civil rights issue, and giving it a truly personal face with the tragic story of how it ripped a family apart.  This is not the only social issue that the author tackles, the book is a wonderful description of the immigrant experience, especially that of the children of immigrants, who can feel a real disconnect from their family's culture.  Obviously the book also touches on loss and grief, and what that can do to the individual and the larger family, and once again I thought the author did a really wonderful job. 
I feel that this book, this story will resonate with me in a way that not many others have, it took me on a journey alongside Jay, and I felt every step of the way. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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Patron Saints of Nothing is a powerful, all-consuming coming-of-age tale and packs an almighty punch! It has so many layers and is a deeply interesting exploration of some thought-provoking topical issues. With a compulsive fact-meets-fiction narrative Randy Ribay writes with courage, brevity and conviction about a topic, culture and country close to his heart. It explores the heart-rending situation in the Philippines where President Rodrigo Duterte has taken an unusually harsh approach to those who are involved with drugs. Known as death squads they target both dealers and users and have been responsible for extrajudicial killings that have resulted in at least 5,000 deaths, perhaps thousands more, with no due process.

If you enjoy real-world issues considered through the eyes of engaging fictional characters this is a must-read novel. It's a poignant, heartbreaking piece on the state the world currently finds herself in and I was deeply moved by Ribay's words and phraseology. Since Duterte took power in 2016 the so-called war on drugs has involved police and motorcycle-riding vigilantes shooting to kill people they think might be drug users or dealers, leaving families to grieve without any accountability for the death squads. The inability of Human Rights lawyers and United Nations to gain impartial information about these killings is emboldening the President further and he is now starting to use these tactics against political opponents. It seems the Philipines is slipping back in time to the days of dictator Ferdinand Marcos; it's hardly surprising given Duterte has frequently expressed his admiration of him and his political outlook.

I simply couldn't tear myself away and was sad when I turned the final page. I predict that this will be a stunning success; it absolutely deserves to be. I have already purchased a copy for my shelf. Keep your eyes out for it this summer! Many thanks to Stripes Publishing for an ARC.
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is waging a war on drugs. Since 2016, he has promised to rid the Philippines of drugs and has encouraged civilians to kills suspected dealers and drug addicts. The numbers vary depending on the source but it is estimated that between 5,000 and 20,000 people have been killed in extrajudicial killings since 2016. It is against the backdrop of the Philippine Drug War that Randy Ribay bases his latest young adult release Patron Saints of Nothing about a Filipino-American teenager and his quest to find out the truth about his cousin's murder.

For Jay Reguero, senior year is a done deal. He's secured a place at University of Michigan and intends to spend spring break playing video games with his friend Seth. But then his cousin Jun is murdered in Manila as part of President Duterte's War in drugs and no one in his family will talk about it. On a whim, Jay flies to the Philippines to visit his family and to find out the truth for himself.

In ten short days, Jay's entire life changes. With themes touching on poverty, slums, addiction, drug use, extrajudicial killings, guilt and redemption, Patron Saints of Nothing is a powerful and devastating story. I felt destroyed by the climax, utterly raw and vulnerable as I cried frustrated tears for the sheer injustice of it all.

Patron Saints of Nothing is an important novel that is as valuable for introducing readers worldwide to life and society in the Philippines as it is for shedding light on the themes that it covers. It is also a touching coming-of-age story with real character development not only for Jay but also for his cousin Jun. I love that Randy Ribay explored both boys' lives through the similarities they shared and the differences between them. Considering how long this book has stayed in my mind, I imagine it will be a great book to discuss in classrooms.

There are no easy solutions in this story or neatly wrapped up storylines. This complexity and refusal to sugarcoat reality are what sets this novel apart from others and I'd be interested to read Ribay's other works.

I give Patron Saints of Nothing a superb five out of five stars and recommend to fans of superior young adult fiction as well as readers seeking to learn about Filipino culture and life in the Philippines.
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A solid coming of age story with great representation.

After Jay’s cousin Jun is murdered in the Philippines as part of Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Jay sets off to reconnect with the Filipino side of his family and uncover the truth of Jun’s death and what role he may have played in it.

I loved the Filipino perspective shown in this, especially the disconnect between Jay and the rest of his family. The struggle for his own identity as a Filipino-American – seen as Filipino in America, but almost completely out of touch with the Philippines and his family there – and how they see him and his family as having deserted everyone else to go to America. The family relationships too felt real and showed a different cultural perspective I enjoyed. Slight but valuable LGBT representation here as well.

The drug war elements are important and quite timely, teasing apart the issue to something less black and white than it first appears. I like, too, that Jay is called out when he tries to act as the privileged saviour, being told that this problem is bigger than him and that he can’t even begin to really understand the culture and system he’s railing against from where he’s standing, let alone help anyone in it.

Jay’s progress through his guilt and grief across the book were carefully done and honest. However, I did find the story a bit slow and very straightforward. The ending wasn’t much of a surprise, either, but I’m not sure that was the point.

I liked this and it’s an important book to have out in the YA space.
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First of all, this book first hit my radar because Randy Ribay did my favourite cover reveal of all time! If you can find it on his Twitter, watch it. Amazing. 

I then read the synopsis and knew I needed this story in my life! I was so psyched to be approved for an ARC and I devoured this. 

What a powerful, moving, important story. A wonderful look at grief and identity. There were so many amazing quotes and passages I highlighted about judgement of someone's identity, toxic masculinity, personal growth and seeing the good in everyone. 

I didn't know anything about the Drug War or Duterte but found myself looking up articles about the slums, the deaths, the drug problem...all mid-read, which is very unusual for me! The description of the country and the culture was so rich in this book it made me want to learn more. On the whole, I thought the writing was fantastic and I will definitely be looking up more of Ribay's work! 

My absoloute favourite thing about this was Jay's journey. Following him on the ups and downs of not just his journey for the truth, but also his search for his own identity, was very intimate and I felt connected to him constantly. Watching him grow from a boy into a man was wonderful. 

I thought enjoy this and highly reccomend it!
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"Silence will not save you."

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I came across this book when I was searching through NetGalley and I was really drawn in by the cover. It’s so beautifully done, and I think it will draw in many people from that alone. Then I read the synopsis and I don’t think that I’ve ever hit the request button faster. The fact that the story is about a Filipino-American trying to find out the truth about his cousin’s death made me so intrigued, and I love books with Asian representation and this book had so much of it. I loved it.

The writing was done well. I liked the use of the letters in the book to show us a bit by bit who Jun was. Then the clues Jay find enlighten everyone about who he became to be before he died. I like the usage of tagalong in this story because it made me feel like I was in the Philippines, and it was used in situations where, I’m guessing you would use tagalong if you were at Jay’s level of fluency.
What I really love about this book is that we are like Jay in this story. In the beginning, we know nothing about what is happening in the Philippines. We learn the truth as he learns it, unless you are knowledgeable like his friend Seth about world politics. I like the fact that we are essentially Jay. Also, in addition to Asian representation, this book has two f/f couples. One of them is Jay's aunts are they are far more prominent then the other couple.

The plot of the book starts off slow. It isn’t until Jay learns of Jun’s death that the story quickens in pace and grips you. When Jay lands in the Philippines where the story really gripped me, and I knew that I will finish it until the very end. I actually ended up reading the story a lot faster than I thought that I would. I had two reading sessions where I ended up reading like 40% of the book in one go. You just want to know what happens and before you know it, you’re at the end of the book.
The mystery around Jun’s death was well done. The conflict between Jay wanting to find out the truth, Jun’s family hiding the truth, and the government killing all people associated with drugs worked really well together to keep me enticed and wanting to know what happened. Jay reading Jun’s letters made us get to know Jun as well, and it made us invested in wanting to know what happened to Jun as well. 

Whilst in the Philippines, there’s not really a romance for Jay, but he does like a girl when he’s there. This is the only part of the story which I didn’t like. I think that this ‘romance’ was not needed. It didn’t take away from the story because there wasn’t much time spent on it, but I just think that it wasn’t needed.

This story is being compared to The Hate U Give and it matches up to that comparison. This book made me think so much because I had no idea about what was going on in the Philippines. This book made me go through the same thoughts and feelings as Jay when he goes through this journey. It’s such a thought provoking book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Once I come back from Korea, this book is high on my purchase list and I will definitely buy some copies of this book at Christmas for the Filipino’s in my family.
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firstly want to say got approved for an arc of this book by netgalley I exchange for review.

wow where do I start with this book it was an emotional,powerful tear jerker of a book that follows the story of Jay a Filipino-American who was close with his cousin Jun who is from the Philippines and who they exchanged letters though when they were young t since they live across the world from each other until 4 years ago when Jun disappeared from home under unknown circumstances. this story also starts where Jay finds out from his family  that Jun has been killed in the streets in the Philippines due to being seen taking or giving out drugs. which is a law that was made by the latest president of the Philippines where if any of his secret army catch anyone with drugs or giving out drugs will get killed, which is such a tragic law that still happens to this day in the Philippines.

so Jay decides to travel to the Philippines to live with his aunts and uncles for a few days to try and learn more about what happens to his best friend/cousin ad to keep his memory alive for him. but when he gets to the Philippines and meets Jun's family they don't even talk about their son/brother and try and act like he wasn't alive in the first place. as we go through the story we see lots of cracks begin to show and more information comes out of the woodworks and takes Jay on a journey throughout the whole of the Philippines which Mia who is Grace.Jun's sisters friends who we get introduced to early on into the book and also Grace and they all try and find out the whole truth of what happened to Jun and once they do its so tragic and emotional. 

one thing I loved about this book was learning about the culture and the many significant places that are used/seen throughout this book and just the beautiful descriptions of the places the characters take throughout this story. especially in one part of the book Jay and Mia go into the poorer part of the Philippines and the way Randy describes the slums is just in a beautiful way.

another significant part I loved from this book is the characters and how diverse they were from his two Aunties who are in a relationship with each other which I nice surprise to see LGBTQ+ themes in this book and also loved that we had Filipino American characters and Filipino Chinese character which was Jays auntie Ines, who for me was one of my favourite characters excluding Jay because he was my ultimate favourite but just loved how loveable and caring she and Chato were with the all their family and friends.

one character  didn't like even though I know your basically meant to not like him was Tato Maning who was just not a nice character and he was mainly horrible to all his family and all the people around him and I would say he was a very flawed character which I do love I shall say. even though he does have a turn around at the end I still couldn't like him. and also Jays father I didn't like at points because I just wanted him to just comfort his son and to help him out in many ways.

overall if you couldn't tell but this book was a emotional story that on one page you could be smiling then the next its just pulls at your heartstrings and make you just feel so tearful. this is a important book that I feel needs to be read by everyone and if u want to know more about the Filipino culture and learning some interesting things about the laws over in the Philippines this is a book that has all that thrown in-between this beautiful story. 5/5 stars and anything Randy brings out I'm definitely going to be buying them all now.
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*4.5 stars.
Patron Saints of Nothing is an incredible story to read, I don't know how else to call it. 

It was about grief and family, but it all took place in the Philippines, where a devastating drug war is happening. This made the story even more emotional and very eye-opening to read. 
I almost read everything in one go, I just had to keep reading and see what actually happened. It was beautifully written and I was on the verge of tears so many times at the last part of the book. 

I highly recommend this to everyone!!
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NOTE: I am reviewing this as a White British woman and I implore you to seek out Pilipino reviewers of this novel to give yourself a greater understanding of the impact that this book has.
Having said that I loved it.

This book is an exploration of culture and history from someone who feels like an outcast in his own country. The perspective of Jay in this novel was the best part, he is vulnerable, grief-stricken and all too much human. The setting allows him to explore a place that feels so foreign to him but still holds so much heritage for him. His altercations with his family, relationships with his Tito's and Titas are so interesting to read. The differences in all the characters are representative of the diversity that makes up the population of the Philippines today and this shows all the problems and the beauty that the country has. 
The book is diverse with people of colour making up almost all of the characters and multiple LGBT characters sprinkled in. However, I found that this diversity didn't make up for some of the slower parts of the book which is what dropped my rating down from a 5 star. Although the chapters were short, I felt that some could have been edited together or omitted entirely.
But, overall I found the book really enjoyable and I eagerly await what Randy Ribaycomes up with next.
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*4.5 Stars

This is such an incredibly eye-opening book, exploring grief and the drug war currently being fought in the Philippines through the eyes of 17-year old Jay. After the death of his cousin, Jay travels to his father's home country of the Philippines to search for the truth and obtain answers to questions that are being ignored. 

I felt like the first half of the book was a little slow to get going, with the setting and characters needing to be introduced first. We know his cousin Jun has died but nobody is saying how or why, prompting Jay to begin his own investigation. He faces a lot of prejudice from Tito Maning, his father's brother/cousins father due to the fact that he is Filipino-American as well as the fact that Jay is relentless in his search for the truth, something that Tito Maning would rather stay hidden.

This is definitely a coming of age story that portrays Jay going from being a typical American teenager to someone who wants to discover more about his heritage and the country he was born in. He isn't a selfish character by any means but throughout his journey we're able to see him become more educated about how poverty stricken the Philippines are and to want to be a part of making this country a better and safer place. He spends a lot of time being unsure about his future and of his place in the world but we are able to see him slowly become more confident and sure of himself as he grows as a person.

The writing from Ribay is stunning in itself. He is able to unfold the story of Jun at exactly the right pace needed, nothing is too rushed or too slow. Jay is experiencing much of the country for the first time so we are able to see much of it through his eyes. His descriptions of the Philippines, especially the slums and poorer areas, give you the sense of being right within the middle of it all. The crowded streets and the poverty being suffered by so many is shown and not told.

I was incredibly shocked by the realities of the drug war in the book, an emotion the author is able to prompt easily. Jay is often described as being 'ignorant' towards what is truly going on and I found myself realising just how ignorant I have been towards a lot of what goes on in the world. It's very easy in western countries to create a bubble around yourself and to not fully understand the severity of events occuring in other countries. This book definitely prompted me to do further research into the events described in this book although characters in the book often say that it's difficult to understand what exactly is happening unless you are experiencing it every day.

This book is truly something special. Ribay has a way with words that had me constantly highlighting passages every couple of pages. Jay's story is one that will create conversations and will have me making a concious decision to keep myself educated amid this ongoing war.
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This is such an important book, I think everyone needs to read it. I’m disappointed that like Jay, I knew nothing about the drugs war & President Duterte in the Philippines. I didn’t really know much about the Philippines at all. I feel like Randy Ribay has made the country into a character of its own in this book, & I absolutely loved it. The feel of the place & the people who live there make it really engrossing, & I sped through reading this. The mystery at the heart of the story is also really compelling, & although we don’t meet Jun I feel like we really got to know him & I wanted to know what happened to him. 

There are a lot of characters in this book, but I think that every one of them was fleshed out & real. This was such a good read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting and compelling read.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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From the opening sentences alone, I knew Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing was a special book. The novel introduces us to the main character Jay through a vivid memory of his first holiday in his country of birth, the Philippines, conveying a sense of nostalgia and a reflective look at what meanings can be grasped from death and life. And so Randy Ribay begins his reflective, passionate and emotional exploration of teenage life, culture clashes, grief, injustice, violence,  loneliness, humanity and so much more. In this review (if you can call it that), I will try my hardest to express how grateful I am for this novel and how it has moved me in ways I didn’t expect.

A short summary: Nearing the end of his final year at school, all Jay has planned is playing video games before he heads off to university. But, when his parents tell him his cousin Jun has been killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines, Jay’s world turns upside down. As Jun was estranged from his family years ago, nobody wants to tell Jay what really happened, so he decides to take a risk and travels to the Philippines to discover the truth about Jun’s murder.

Before reading this book, I knew very little about the war on drugs in the Philippines, and like Jay, I had no idea about the number of people that have been murdered under Duterte’s promise to rid his country of drug crime. In the last few years,  thousands have lost their lives and it breaks my heart that I knew so little about it, living like much of the world in my little bubble of ignorance and safety, and that there is nothing I or anyone I know can do about it. Jay’s shame is tenfold as he recounts his last moments with his cousin years ago and how he stopped replying to the letters Jun kept sending him. He begins doing his own research about the drug war, grappling with his emotions over the articles he reads and the photos of victims he discovers, feeling helpless and wondering how the Jun he knew could ever have been involved, sure he wasn’t. Feeling like nothing else is important in his life right now, he gets permission from his parents to stay with his family in the Philippines, determined to get all the answers he needs to set his cousin free.

Randy’s reflective exploration of Jay’s grief about his cousin and his learning about the drug war, not only in these early chapters but in the whole book, moved me so much I often had to put the book aside to cry and move on to something else because it hurt so much. Randy’s writing inspired me to read what I could find online, too look at photographs and watch videos. Even if there is little I can do, I believe everyone who reads this book will do the same as me and that is getting the word out about what is happening in a country so far away from us. Patron Saints of Nothing  portrays the reality of the drug war in raw detail, discussing all sides of it, and also incorporates other issues like poverty and sex trafficking that many of us in the West do not often think about. If I was in school right now, I would want to study this book and if I was an English teacher, my students would be. I think it is so important that so many people read it to gain awareness and an understanding of life outside of our own. Too often we take our lives for granted and we do not stop to gather the moments, no matter how small, to our hearts.

The fiction element of Patron Saints of Nothing, revolving around Jay and Jun’s stories and their families, opens up a touching telling of family and culture. I have spent a lot of time in South East Asia in the last few years and though I haven’t been to the Philippines, there were so many descriptions of the country that reminded me of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. I loved reading Jay’s perspective of everything he saw during his visit, from the delightful and beautiful to the sad and worrying. The discussions about culture, particularly the difference between Filipino and American, between Jay and his family was so interesting to read and really made me think about what makes us who we are.

While the plot is carried by what happened to Jun and who he became, one of the most moving parts of the story are the characters and their interactions with each other. Jun is the heart of the novel. The way he is remembered and his story discovered throughout the novel was so moving, I sobbed as if I had lost him, too. I felt Jay and Jun’s family’s grief deep in my body. And I really cannot praise Randy enough for that. It is one thing to write about a difficult topic so well, but another to use words to paint relatable and lifelike characters that you end up really caring about. Jay himself is a brilliant character to follow throughout the novel. The way he grew and began to understand himself and the world was so beautiful to read. Jay’s Aunties were two of my favourite characters, as were his cousins and Jun’s sisters Grace and Angel, and a certain character who ends up helping Jay seek out answers. While I struggled to understand Jun’s parents, especially his father, there was one particular part of the novel with them that made me cry the hardest. There were a few other characters who had roles to play in bringing the whole story together and bringing it to a point of completion. And I loved every second of it.

I hope I have in some way been able to express how wonderful I think this novel is. Thank you for writing it, Randy Ribay. Patron Saints of Nothing is an extraordinary book, breathing a story that will stay in my heart for many years. I know I did not do it justice here, so all I can say now is to beg you to get yourself a copy of this gorgeous book on the 27th of June. I definitely will be.
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