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His First, Her Last: The Incredible True Story of an American Lost in the Philippines
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His First, Her Last: The Incredible True Story of an American Lost in the Philippines

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  293 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Engaged couple Jason and Hazel travel across the world to meet her family in this true story of love and adventure. The moment Jason steps off the plane in the Philippines, an exotic island caught between the East and the West, the past and the present, grabs hold of this naive American and seduces him with its beauty, its places, and its people. Temptation looms as the be ...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Pendan Publishing (first published September 2nd 2013)
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Average rating 3.17  · 
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 ·  293 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Start your review of His First, Her Last: The Incredible True Story of an American Lost in the Philippines
I am utterly insulted! This character, Jason, was self-absorbed, tactless, and downright disrespectful. His observation of the Philippine culture was stereotypical and deficient (< ten day trip would make one an expert, right? –sarcasm--). Even if some of the remarks were true, his attitude in its presentation was offensive to the Philippine people. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was when he was desperate to get out of the Philippine hospital because he felt that he would not get t ...more
Cassandra Javier
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I got a free copy of this book for review and I must say that I have mixed feelings about this. Well, first up, I am from the Philippines and yes, although it's kinda funny that some of the stuff written here are true, others I think were just too...exaggerated and magnified. Here's what I have to say: The Philippines, though it's not America or any other place in the world, though there are things that happen here that would make you feel queasy or whatever, IT IS NOT A BAD PLACE. Not a god-dam ...more
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first book that I read by this author was Clouded Rainbow. It was a great story and I loved it.

When Jonathan Sturak released this, his latest book, he messaged me out of the blue and asked me if I would be interested in reading it. Knowing how much I loved his previous book, and seeing his words about how personal this book was to him, I agreed.

I wanted to love this book as much as I loved Clouded Rainbow ... but I just couldn't. I've actually been putting off writing this review for several
Aug 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
Like a train wreck, this book was hard to look away from. The author's America-centric world view and cultural expectations were cringe-worthy. Having lived in the Philippines for 10 years from the 1970's to 1980's, I thought I would appreciate seeing an outsider's view of the country for a touch of nostalgia. Yet even I, with all my youthful naiveté, could not have rivaled this fellow for his unrealistic expectations of life in a third world country, his ignorance of what is "normal" for others ...more
As a Filipina, married to a white man, Norwegian, this book piqued my interest when I receive a review request. I was eager to start reading it and know the experience of another foreigner in the Philippines.

2020, years later, I read this again, and you know what? I notice things I didn’t in the beginning at the stuff he did pissed me more than ever.

Before I get to the point, I want to mention that I want to applaud the author for his clever observation about the Philippines. Many foreigners go
Nov 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mixed feelings ...

At first I was excited to read about daily life in the Philippines. But pretty soon I was very disappointed. It reads like a first time novelist with choppy paragraphs and a draft-like feel.

It was insulting to see how naive this man was about visiting another country. Of course you check your cell coverage ... find a hospital ... do your research. It portrays Americans as idiots. And the hand sanitizer!? Really?!

Not impressed. Do not recommend.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-from-author
I'm a huge fan of Jonathan Sturaks work. This story was very different from what I've read of his. Based on actual events in the author's life he tells of an amazing journey to the Philippines to meet and visit his fiancee Hazel's family.
From the moment Jason and Hazel arrived in her country, Jason finds himself questioning things he takes for granted. He is suddenly surrounded by the harsh realities of what life is like living in the Philippines, the poverty, the people and the lifestyles are m
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
I gave this book 3 starts because it doesn't have an option to only give 2 1/2. I think I might have liked this book more if I wasn't so mislead by the title and cover picture. I assumed the story was about a man who while visiting the Philippines for the first time had experienced some horrific event, became lost in a foreign country and somehow overcame his circumstance all while dealing with the loss of his fiance. I was way off!! By Chapter 13 still nothing exciting happened. Halfway through ...more
Kristen Mazzola
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, first-reads
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this through a goodreads giveaway! It was the first time that I heard about Jonathan Sturak and I have to say that I am so thrilled to have found such a talented writer. This book brings so much to that table and the raw emotion conveyed is palpable. The characters are wonderfully portrayed and make you turning the pages from cover to cover! ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
I am a filipino and while most of what's written is true, but, we don't eat sandwiches with rice. We have a problem with poverty and corruption but it doesn't make us any less human than you. It offends me that you always have to use your sanitizer and that you fear that your food is not safe. I will not read this for now and will continue next time. ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This is the true story of a young man who visits the Philippines with his fiancé for the he first time. It is a true story told by Jason who is the author. Jason is clearly neurotic and perhaps has not had a great deal of experience with traveling or with other cultures as he is anxious the entire time he is visiting the Philippines. His fiancé Hazel, seems like a nice person that comes from a close knit family. Although Jason is a foreigner, Hazel's family and friends embrace him. Jason is frie ...more
daniella Barrera

This book kept me interested right up until the end. Perhaps because I have a brother engaged to a Filipino woman and after several visit s he is planning to move there made it more relevant to me.
Christina Shackford
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Slow start... seemed to drag in places. About 75% through the book peaked... and rapidly concluded. Almost too fast. Felt rushed.
Sara Marfisi-weaver
Great story

Easy read filled w love and hope
glad they both lived happily

Enjoy and looking forward to another book by this author
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read more book reviews at Book Junkie Joint.

Poignantly accurate! This is a very insightful read about an outsider's point of view of the Philippines.

It was interesting to read about my country from the eyes of a foreigner. Sure, I will have to admit that my country is not paradise, heck, it's even world-famous for its corrupt politicians, but it's not so bad really. It was understandable to read about Jason being all antsy and careful as regards the food and environment when he came to the Phili
Jeff Woodard
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off i want to say Jonathan is a great author and i really enjoy his writing style. And i did truly enjoy this book. I really can relate to so many things he talks about. You see im an American im married to a Filipina. I first traveled to the Philippines alone in 2006. My wife,son and I returned there this past September to visit family and friends.

Ive been to manila and cebu. The country is beautiful and as jason mentions the people are mostly nice and courteous. The Philippines has its s
Roger DeBlanck
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Jonathan Sturak’s fifth book (his fourth novel) is his most accomplished work to date. The main character, Jason Stefanik, is an all American boy: raised on the east coast, a college graduate, and a young man with a steady career in computer technology. His fiancée, Hazel, is a beautiful Philippine woman adjusting to life and work in the states, yet understandably she is nostalgic for her family back on the islands. When the couple takes a trip back to Hazel’s native country, the vacation become ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. Many thanks to the publisher/author for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

This was a really hard book for me to get into. It ended up being a slow, kind of painful read. Maybe the writing style just doesn't appeal to me. I liked that the story was so in-depth, but it also tended to drag at times.

I'm never been to the Philippines, nor do I know much about it, but the
I'm glad I spent very little to purchase this book. The review made it sound much more interesting than it turned out to be. It is the story of the author's trip to the Philippines with his fiance, Hazel, to meet her family and a traumatic event that occurred during their brief time there. It was somewhat interesting reading the author's descriptions of the Philippines---especially the traffic in Manila, the hotel rooms he stayed in, and other details he shared about Manila and other locations h ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Somehow I had expected something much more sinister, like a hostage situation or something really twisted occurring. I was reading along... waiting and waiting for the real action to begin. The living situation in the Philippines - with the corrupt police officers, absent traffic regulations and desperate poverty - as these situations were described, there was an overall feeling of dread, that the 'bad' thing was going to happen at the next moment. At maybe 70% or so, a horrible accident occurs ...more
Dec 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
I usually really enjoy memoirs, especially when it's someone traveling to another country; however, I honestly was really disappointed with this one. I thought the title of the book was very misleading and the use of the word "incredible" a stretch. Though I think it is wonderful that someone can get into a terrible accident and survive it, it's not until 76% into the book that you even get to this part. That means I read 75% of pretty much nothing. I found the writing to be very dry and the mai ...more
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have taken some time and stepped away from the book I read and finished. The Author had sent me a copy of his book- His First, Her Last by Jonathan Sturak. I felt like the book was really long and painful to read because I was waiting for something to happen. Other books I have read by this author contained more of a mystery and I guess I was always waiting for the story to begin. It turned out this was more of an autobiographical story about the author visiting the Philippines with his fiancé ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This true life story about the American, Jason, and his foreign fiancé, Hazel, is a riveting adventure. They arrive in the Philippines to vacation with Hazel's friends and family. Jason becomes the foreigner in this Pacific land. Every day is a battle of emotions and physical struggles. Would this couple ultimately return to America? This book left me informed yet anxious about ever visiting a foreign land. When embracing a different culture, the ultimate preparations may not make for ideal memo ...more
Kevin Cortes
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
A story based on the actual experiences by the writer on the Filipino culture, traditions and even some of the problems that the country have. It gives another perspective to a life in the Philippines through the eyes of a tourist.

The story of Jason's adventure is an interesting insight and narration of the experiences that the author had. Amidst the bad experience that he had due to the accident, Sturak still manages to come up with a story that talks about love and hope despite the tragedy tha
Kevin Cortes
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A story based on the actual experiences by the writer on the Filipino culture, traditions and even some of the problems that the country have. It gives another perspective to a life in the Philippines through the eyes of a tourist.

The story of Jason's adventure is an interesting insight and narration of the experiences that the author had. Amidst the bad experience that he had due to the accident, Sturak still manages to come up with a story that talks about love and hope despite the tragedy tha
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story. Told as a novel but based on a true account this book really had it all. I loved the way the author shared his feelings of being in a different country and then contemplating on how it effects the world as a whole. He generally had culture shock and needed to know that his world still existed by constantly phoning family back home. His visit ended in tradegy though which caused his desire to return to the country to fade away along with his Fiancees desire to return to her ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
I debated between a 0 and a 1 for my rating of this waste of time. I guess I learned a couple of things so I went with a 1. I kept waiting for something to happen, but every page was the same with him whining to his fiancé, calling his mommy, charming the young nephew, reciting every dollar he gave to these people like he was saving them or something by buying them food from McDonalds, and flirting with his fiance's best friend. He talked of the poverty of the country and kept hinting that somet ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
As an American I take so much for granted. Good hospital care, flushable toilets, even a soft bed. Through the eyes, and sad yet magnetic memories of the author I have realized my own naïveté. Whilst reading of the lives of those living in the Philippines I had to constantly remind myself this book tells a story of just a couple years ago. I kept wanting to believe people only lived like this a hundred years ago... A poignant and worthwhile read for sure.
This was a free book. I had a hard time getting into it. I started reading four different books, one chapter at a time. The author wrote the story of his trip to the Philippines with his fiancee. He lusted after Hazel's best friend, Joy. It was hard to understand why Joy got the task of watching out for Jason. I read some of the other reviews, and one was harsh on the authors version of life in the Philippines. This was a difficult book to read. I'm glad it over. ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Downloaded this book for free and am glad that I didn't purchase it. Jason's character annoyed me and I could not get a good picture in my head as to what he looked like and how he came to be the way he was. The way he behaved had me intrigued, but not in a good way. I felt bad for Hazel the entire time. I also felt as if there was a lot of build-up and then all of a sudden the book was over. Not what I was expecting. ...more
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Jonathan Sturak grew up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He is a Penn State University graduate and holds degrees in Computer Science and Film. He currently lives in Las Vegas where he uses the energy of the city to craft stories about life and the human condition. "The Place Called Home," Sturak's essay about Eastern European heritage in Northeast Pennsylvania, was featured on Glass Cases ...more

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