Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
October is Filipinx-American History Month, so I wanted to focus my Top Ten Tuesday this week on books featuring Filipinx and Filipinx-American characters. I’m a quarter Filipinx (my maternal grandmother immigrated to the US from the Philippines in 1950), and am always looking for more Filipinx rep in YA and Middle Grade books. I’ve noticed a big increase in MG books in particular about Filipinx characters, but there’s still such a huge need for more voices. I’m crossing my fingers for more representation this coming year.
Here’s five books that I’ve enjoyed with Filipinx and/or Filipinx-American representation:
1. Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz
This book highlights Filipinx culture in so many ways by talking about food, family, beliefs, identity, space, and more.
Goodreads summary: “Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.
And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.
For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.”
2. Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
This middle grade novel takes place in the Philippines and I learned so much while reading it! I’d never heard of the city in Manila’s North Cemetery, and it was so interesting to read about the people who live there.
Goodreads summary: “After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.
When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.
With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.”
3. Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
Erin Entrada Kelly has written several amazing MG novels, but this one in particular really delves into the experience of Filipinx immigrants.
Goodreads summary: “Two sisters from the Philippines, abandoned by their father and living in impoverished circumstances in Louisiana, fight to make their lives better.
Soledad has always been able to escape into the stories she creates. Just like her mother always could. And Soledad has needed that escape more than ever in the five years since her mother and sister died and her father moved Sol and her youngest sister from the Philippines to Louisiana. Then he left, and all Sol and Ming have now is their evil stepmother, Vea. Sol has protected Ming all this time, but then Ming begins to believe that Auntie Jove—their mythical, world-traveling aunt—is really going to come rescue them. Have Sol’s stories done more harm than good? Can she protect Ming from this impossible hope?”
4. Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider
Rose’s dreamy love interest, Jamie, is half Filipino and half white. Although not a big part of the story, that biracial and Filipino rep resonated with me.
Goodreads summary: “Rose Asher believes in ghosts. She should, since she has one for a best friend: Logan, her annoying, Netflix-addicted brother, who is forever stuck at fifteen. But Rose is growing up, and when an old friend moves back to Laguna Canyon and appears in her drama class, things get complicated.
Jamie Aldridge is charming, confident, and a painful reminder of the life Rose has been missing out on since her brother’s death. She watches as Jamie easily rejoins their former friends–a group of magnificently silly theater nerds–while avoiding her so intensely that it must be deliberate.
Yet when the two of them unexpectedly cross paths, Rose learns that Jamie has a secret of his own, one that changes everything. Rose finds herself drawn back into her old life–and to Jamie. But she quickly starts to suspect that he isn’t telling her the whole truth.
All Rose knows is that it’s becoming harder to choose between the boy who makes her feel alive and the brother she isn’t ready to lose.”
5. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
One of Alice’s BFFs & roommates was an immigrant from the Philippines, and he was by far one of my favorite characters! This book is diverse and wonderful in so many ways.
Goodreads summary: “Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.”
AND HERE’S SOME ON MY TBR:
1. Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse David
Strong, confident Filipina girl ruling the world? Um, YES.
Goodreads summary: “Alex dela Cruz has it all. Looks, money, and a killer sense of style.
When the annoyingly gorgeous Adam Cordero calls her selfish, she decides to prove him wrong by transforming Christy Marquez from an invisible misfit into a ruling princess of Asia Pacific Academy. Great hair? Check. Flawless red lipstick? Check. Instant popularity? A slightly too big check.
But now, Alex is on the brink of losing the plastic tiara she’s supposed to get as prom queen, her best friend, and her heart to the unlikeliest of candidates. Too bad she isn’t letting anything—or anyone—get between her and that tiara.”
2. See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Alex is a half-Filipino boy who dreams of outer space. This novel sounds so charming and THERE’S A DOG.
Goodreads summary: “11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.”
3. Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera
I’m always looking for intersectionally diverse novels, and this one about a gay Filipino boy sounds perfect for me!
Goodreads summary: “What does it take to come out of the closet?
Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?
In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!”
4. What Things Mean by Sophia N. Lee
This one already sounds good, but I especially love that it’s about a girl who feels different and tries to find the answers in books.
Goodreads summary: “What does it mean to be different? 14-year-old Olive is struggling to find out. Everything about her is so different from the rest of her family. She is big-haired, brown skinned, and clumsy in a family of cream-colored beauties who are all popular and Good At Sports. She closely resembles a father she has never known, and about whom her mother never speaks, and no one wants to tell her why. She turns to books and other things in her quest to find answers, and as a way to cope with her loneliness. When she learns the truth about her father, she must decide whether or not she will let the differences in her life define her forever.
A unique coming-of-age story unfolding through dictionary-style chapters, What Things Mean takes a closer look at the things that define a life, and the many ways in which we find meaning.”
5. The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio
I didn’t know I desperately needed to read about a Filipina girl building a tiny house in San Francisco until now but I totally do.
Goodreads summary: “Lou Bulosan-Nelson is going to build her dream. She shares a room with her mom in her grandmother’s house in San Francisco, and longs for a place of her own where she can escape her lovable but large extended Filipino family. Lou has a talent for woodshop class and creating projects, and plans to build a tiny house, 100 square feet, all her own, on land that she inherited from her dad, who died before she was born. Then Lou discovers it’s not so easy to build one, but she won’t give up on her dream—and her friends and family won’t either. This heartwarming coming-of-age story explores culture and family, forgiveness and friendship, and what makes a house a true home. ”
Do you know of any other books featuring Filipinx and/or Filipinx-American characters that I should add to my TBR?