Ever since After the Shot Drops I have been the biggest Randy Ribay fan. Ribay has a way with characters that will charm and move you – whether it be with their antics and decisions, or with their heartbreak and dilemmas.
Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.
Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Patron Saints of Nothing is stunning form page one. It’s tender, full of memories and stolen moments. Unresolved letters litter the book, like words flown across oceans to land on unspoken silence. They are fragments of a life once shared and mysteries unravel about how a connection can be severed. Patron Saints of Nothing is a book that handles difficult questions – our concept of home and family, injustice and corruption, secrets and the quest for truth.
There’s no denying that you can’t help but feel for Jay. Yes he’s made mistakes, but we feel a kinship to his need to know. To know if our silence, our lack of correspondence, was a factor to his cousin’s death all while being equally terrified to find out if it is. There were so many moments where I could empathize with Jay – the way he feels stuck between where he was born, the Philippines, and where he grew up, America – in many ways, unconnected to both.
It’s in the way we can romanticize a place we have never lived, or lacked the time feeling the soil beneath our feet, the way the past can bring out the shades of good, while the shadows recede. Or it’s in the ways we finally return home, and have that moment of dissonance, of feeling like we are at ‘home’ but not at home. Being among people who resemble us in appearance, but feeling ‘not enough’ and having to apologize.
Tough Questions & Themes
Patron Saints of Nothing asks tough questions about our global responsibility, our duty to our family, to our friends, and our social consciousness. It’s a book without simple answers, without straight forward solutions, and, because of this, remains genuine. Patron Saints of Nothing reminds us that we can’t ever really know the reality of someone else’s life, situation, or desperation. It forces us to confront truths about the people we love who are gone, who can’t stand up for themselves, but who weren’t one sided.
Trying to tackle our silence, our complicity, Patron Saints of Nothing features writing that is both poetic and also points steadily at a feeling you could never name.It is a book brimming with emotions, hard truths, and experiences that will wring your heart. How do we make our way in the world while trying to be who we are, not who we are supposed to be, or who our family wants us to be?