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Dear Philomena

4.76  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Dear Philomena, is the story of two strokes, one boy, one girl and a whole lot of magical realism.

July 1991, Leocardia Byenkya underwent an ultrasound that informed her to expect a baby girl. She chose the name Philomena.

January 16 1992, her baby was born as a boy. Filled with shock and surprise, Leocardia named her baby boy Mugabi.

December 2014, Mugabi suffered from two
Paperback, 216 pages
Published February 26th 2017 by Discovery Diversity Publishing
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Average rating 4.76  · 
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 ·  55 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Sachin De Saram
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dear Philomena is a candid, raw, and emotionally riveting read. I've known Mugabi since the 2nd grade but due to the nature of our international upbringing and constant changing of school and country, it wasn't always possible for us to keep in touch. However, a few months ago I was fortunate enough to meet up with my childhood friend after 10+ years, and learned about his trials and tribulations. I was shocked that such a young individual could endure several strokes and still maintain such an ...more
Joel Benjamin Benjamin
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel May
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a treasure and a gift. As someone who can relate to unbearable chronic pain, this book and Mugabi's work fill my heart with so much joy at seeing someone articulate what I have been so far unable to say. Heart- and gut-wrenching, powerful, intelligent, stylish and unique are all words that I could use to describe this book.
The style is important because not only do I feel I recognize ways in which it captures the mind of someone with chronic pain, but also because it made it easier
Daiane Aizen
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has challenged my understanding of the world in ways that I would have never expected. It is hard to believe that someone can undergo those kinds of situations and still be standing strong and living life to the fullest. It made me appreciate the simple things and it made me realize how grateful I am that my body is on my side. But what inspired me the most is that the author did not let his body define who he is and what he is capable of. It is as if he was born again into this World ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a must read. It had me emotionally engaged the entire time, and the unique format (with the back & forth instant messages and breaks for phone calls of different length) got my mind thinking in different ways about what Mugabi was implying by not needing to even "say" anything in some cases. That's powerful. It was also a very relatable way to write (since so much of our communication lives are built on instant messages and social media nowadays.)

Thank you, Mugabi, for sharing you
Sebastian Sanchez Deuer
This book uses an inventive storytelling technique that engages the reader directly, which makes it an easy read. The book tackles the very tough subjects of mental and physical health with utmost sincerity and good humor, making it easy to read in spite of its grueling theme. Not a tear-jerker, Dear Philomena uses the title character as the Ying to Mugabi’s Yang, always shinning a positive light and distracting from the odds that seem to always be stacked against the main character, suffering f ...more
Vivienne Arinda
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first time I saw this book cover I was curious to read it wondering why this split face cover so I bought it. I read this book between the lines and it left me heart broken as Mugabi takes you down the story lane authentically. And by the time I met Mugabi physically it seemed like I had known him all his life and I am so humbled. This book gave me reason to always write and keep on writing. This book is a must read and have. This book has a voice that calls you from the dark and anyone else ...more
Lexie Coutts
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely could not put this book down! I read the book cover to cover in one day because I was completely enraptured with the writing style. I have never before read a book that left me with as many questions as answers. “Dear Philomena” left me heartbroken and feeling raw in the way only a true story can. I think anyone who struggles with an illness (physical or mental) would be able to relate with Mugabi and this book absolutely feels like he’s shouting from the rooftops “you’re not alone” ...more
Bita Diomande
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read Dear Philomena in one sitting, just couldn't put it down. Mugabi's strength in sharing these raw emotions was so powerful. What a plight he went through, exacerbated by the lack of empathy shown by doctors he encountered. As someone interested in alternative healing methods, I was comforted to know that he was able to find peace and strength through that. Mugabi's writing style, in a dialogue with his dear friend Philomena was very engaging. I CANNOT wait for a sequel to hear what happene ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this book in Kampala after being hooked by the glossary right at the start. It seemed so frank. And funny. I wasn't quite sure how to read this book as this was a tone and a voice I was not used to. It took me a while to realise that this was a true tale - just an honest account of an incredible life, told as it happened. The book was an eye-opener for me and not just into what it might be like living with chronic pain. An exploration into honesty.
Colin Roy
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very intense and ensightful read. Anyone who has had or knows anyone who has had chronic pain, illness, and or issues with arrogant dismissive doctors must read. The book grabs ahold of you from page one and doesn't let go. The book definitely provides strength to anyone suffering from any problems life throws at them.
Emily Gillespie
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this work. I am amazed by the display of vulnerability that was explored in the book. I really enjoyed the style, written as a text and social media conversation between close friends during an illness. Amazing portrayal of the variety of feelings that surround both navigating the healthcare system & coming to terms with what life may look like with illness. ...more
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really deep, really personal. The realities of life. Raw and Real….. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing your story with us. I feel like I know you on a higher level that I can truly appreciate. I need to meet with you and have a long conversation!!
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This gripping book is not one you can easily put down, as Mugabi draws you into his frustrating, painful, and isolating day-to-day life in a way that is truly raw and uncut. Thank you for inviting us into your life and sharing with us what a vulnerable and resilient person you are.
Maya Williams
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A needed story in our time right now.
Nathalie Verkoijen
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never usually write reviews but this was a book I definitely had to share my experience with.

The style of the book is modern, relatable, and refreshing I almost felt as though I was a part of the dialogues.

Mugabe, I'm sorry to hear about the troubles you have been through and truly admire your approach both through action and perspective! This taught me so much with regards to physical and mental health.

So thank you, and I hope you have found more answers since writing your book ♥️
Matthew Morrison
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dear Philomena is a book is an incredibly emotional book that will undoubtedly pull heartstrings from all fortunate enough to hold a copy. His portrayal and description of his path will give anyone a better understanding of the lived experience he had to endure, and I encourage anyone who would like to better understand the hardships within the book as well as themselves to absolutely read this piece.

Thank you Mugabi, for having the courage to bring us Dear Philomena.
Rudolf Ray
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Right off the bat, one wouldn't know what to make of the story. It is as beautiful as it is upsetting, a definite must-read. 'Dear Philomena' exemplifies a strong positive theme for many people suffering with chronic pain, and Mugabi's writing style constantly creates the balance that reassures the reader of the light at the end of the tunnel. It is funny, it is raw, it is hard to put down once you get started. worth reading twice!
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
After following Mugabi on social media, it was intriguing to see what was happening in his life when he made such posts. Readers see the thought process he underwent whilst updating his status or tweeting. The epistolary between he and Philomena really shows what happened during this crucial period of his life. He holds nothing back and covers topics from chronic pain, suicide, dating, and the struggle to survive. His battle serves as an inspiration to all!
Ophelia Kemigisha
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is the most unique piece of work I’ve ever read, refusing to conform to known ways of prose and or poetry, but managing to convey a powerful story that will leave you equal parts inspired and dismayed. Mugabi not only tells a raw and emotional tale but also critiques the medical establishment, ableism, patriarchy, and gender expectations. A riveting read.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A good book leaves you thinking about it long after you're done reading it. I keep thinking about the book "Dear Philomena" and it still brings tears to my eyes. I couldn't put the book down, I was drawn in right from the start. Now I find myself wishing I had a friendship/relationship like the one between Mugabi and Philomena. Just an overall great book
Avery Stempel
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I heard Mugabi perform at two different poetry readings. His struggle to come to terms with how his illnesses impacted his life is clearly laid out in this book. I loved the style he used to move the story along. Many very powerful statements about life, and being human, and struggling through the system! Great read!
Jesse David
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book provided a lot of insight into the challenges of the medical system and how beautiful a friendship can be even through the worst of times. I appreciate the nod to the ways systemic oppression can play out in our lives.
Lulu  Opio
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is hard to understand what sort of pain people go through everyday until you experience it.
Meital Kupfer
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mugabi is a talented author who brings in clever mechanisms of storytelling to paint a raw and realistic picture of what it is like to live realities that can trap or free you. As someone who manages chronic illness, I think the frank reality and telling-like-it-is feels that you are reading with a friend in the pages. Excited to see what else they write!
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dreams, memoir
Illuminating book exploring a deep, mystical friendship through a surprise chronic pain that feels like it will be a new normal, showing how people communicate today, through texting, social media, calls, and even snail mail.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Jan 11, 2019
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Mugabi Byenkya is an award-winning writer, poet and occasional rapper. He was born in Nigeria, to Ugandan parents and is currently based in Kampala.

Mugabi was longlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Award in 2015. His essays and poetry have been published in The Good Men Project, The Mighty, and Arts and Africa, along over 20 other publications. He has been interviewed on Voice of America, NTV Uga

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