With an overly zealous mother as her guide, 19-year-old Sam has never had problems navigating through Christian suburbia before. But, all that changes when she befriends and becomes intrigued with Clara, her widowed neighbor and the village’s social outcast. When their friendship grows into the “unnatural”, Sam is forced to examine her upbringing and come to terms with who she really is.
A coming of age f/f romance as a 19yo with a bullying religious mother comes to terms with her sexuality and falls in love with an older woman. (Who is a widow, was happily married, and is exploring her sexuality as much as our heroine.) It's passionately told and felt, as much about Sam's need to escape her stifling life and recognise how abusive her mother is as about the love story, though that is adorable (closed door love scenes). Also, lovely to see that Clara is the catalyst for her escape but Sam very definitely does it for herself.
Written in present tense, and I can't for the life of me see why because it made the flashbacks confusing. May this trend end soon. Otherwise I liked this a lot.
Don't Tell my Mother was an okay read. It's interesting at first because it tackles the struggles of a lesbian teenager hiding 'her true self'. I had a hard time adjusting to the writing because the style was a bit confusing for me. The first parts were okay but the story started going downhill somewhere in the middle. There were also a lot of unnecessary flashbacks. I wish I saw more of Sam and Christina's friendship and what they used to be instead. It's quite disappointing that the ending left me saying, "that's it?"
I've been typing-deleting-typing my review for the last 15 minutes, and that's probably because
There are many good things to say about this book—moving, brave, funny, staggering—but it might be better for me to leave it this way instead:
And it doesn't even matter what pronoun/sexual preference/gender identity you use and/or identify with, or what or whom you believe in. You will find your self in this book in more ways than one.
Note: I read the print edition released by Anvil. Available here. Want to share your book with me? Reach me here.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
Stellar, sharp writing. Prose so hilarious it brought me to the edge of tears so many times, both tears of joy and tears of aching lament. Characters so tangible I felt I could reach out and touch them, play chess with them, eat their chicken gallantina. Bautista is another author added to my auto-buy list.
I was so glad to find out that such a book -- a new adult Filipino novel with a lesbian protagonist -- exists. But, to be honest, I was kind of disappointed at how clunky the storytelling and hurried the characterization sometimes got. Nonetheless, I'm still glad that this book exists because it is a pioneer in diversifying the new adult genre in the Philippines.
This book wrecked me but in the best way possible! It’s so funny and heartbreaking at the same time. This isn’t YA but it’s definitely a coming of age story with emphasis on Sam’s development and journey as she explores her sexuality within her upbringing in a fundamentalist Christian household. Her mother is abusive, something Sam has to come to terms with because she loves her mother and desperately wants to be accepted. I wish there had been more exploration of her relationship with her father, which was so different. Her mother is such an overpowering presence but we learn that her father is gay (? or bisexual? I mean I assumed he was gay but married to a woman & divorce is illegal in the Philippines but maybe he also loved her mother at one point). Sam’s parents moved to the suburbs when Sam was young at her mother’s insistence so that he’s not “tempted” anymore and over time, her mother becomes more and more religious to the point of fanaticism. (My heart seriously BROKE for her father.)
Despite the heavy subject matter, this book is full of humor and irreverence. Sam is 19 when the book starts and I loved being inside her head.
Anchoring the book is a truly wonderful love story between Sam and a widow who is essentially the town Jezebel. Clara was happily married but also exploring her sexuality and they go from strangers to friends to lovers (all the sex is off the page/closed door). Clara is almost twice Sam’s age and she is portrayed by Sam’s mother as a corrupting influence, but their relationship was so pure to me. And yet Sam doesn’t finally stand up to her mom for Clara—she does it for herself. Knowing Sam was going to get her happy ending, even if she had to give up parts of her life, is why I love romance so much. This story could’ve easily been a tragedy in another genre, but instead it was affirming. Romance gives queer people like Sam their happy endings and that means the world to me and to other readers.
The only reason I’m not giving this a full 5 stars is because the way flashbacks were woven into the book (most chapters begin with one) wasn’t that smooth at times and I would get confused by the tense switching from past to present. But I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Some TWs: mention of a secondary character dying by suicide in a flashback (classmate of Sam’s); queerphobia; teen pregnancy (another classmate is sent to the US for becoming pregnant). Anyone who grew up in a fundamentalist household or community may feel this hits really close to home.
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I would have Dnf-ed if it weren't so short and I felt bad that my Pride Month reads were mostly imports and had male gay leads. Too many unnecessary flashbacks at the start of a chapter, inconsistencies (Christian church with a Jesus mural), cringey phrasing ("he disappeared like a first-degree murder") and a big requirement of suspension of disbelief kept me from enjoying the light romance read which I was expecting.
The book vividly paints the protagonist's sardonic attitudes towards her hypocritical, ultra-religious upbringing and community. It's easy to understand her. There is also a sense of gusto in the storytelling. However, the prose is peppered with a fair amount of clunky metaphors and pop culture references. Some parts of the writing feel clichéd.
I picked Don't Tell My Mother for the 2k17 Asian Lit Bingo's prompt "queer romance with asian mc". Apart from that, I didn't know much what to expect from this short novel. But I'm glad I read it - It's a beautiful story.
And a painful one, too, since we're here. And powerful. Don't Tell My Mother presents us Sam, our narrator, a 19yo girl from the Philippines with an overly religious mother, a desire to please her parents no matter what and also some history with Cristina, the girl next door sent to the USA for being a pregnant teen. Sam's still trying to find her place, even though she's grown up in the suburbia, when, one day on church, she has to sit next to Mrs. Alves, the windowed woman from down the street that everybody else avoids. From holding hands with the older woman to evening strolls to her house, the relationship between the two of them turn into something more as Sam can't really hide her feelings for Clara - and as Clara slowly let herself fall into that too.
Sam's struggles, her relationship with her dad and, mostly, her navigating life as the only child of a super religious mother were a lot, but everything felt so real I couldn't help but fall for her and Clara and hope for their best. At some points, this book even reminded me of Purple Hibiscus, and I couldn't wait to find out if it had a bittersweet ending, too. I ended up reading most of it in one seating.
I was surprised at how mature this whole thing was, and how well Briggite Bautista handled everything. Sam's struggles felt very real and I loved every single bittersweet moment she had. My next read will be Better At Weddings Than You, by Mina V. Esguerra, another philippine writer (who's also mentioned by Brigitte by the end of the book!!) and I can't wait to read more authors from this country.
Definitely nice to see an LGBT book written by Filipinos centering around Filipino culture, but I think the book itself suffers from its length. If we got to see Sam's struggle in finding who she was after moving out, the book would have made a much more powerful impact.
I got my own copy at #AprilFeelsDay2017 but I’ve been craving to read this since news of its existence reached me through Twitter last year. This is my first FF romance and I’m fortunate enough to have been ‘devirginized’ by this book! LOL
I hate slow paced stories. A slow first few chapters is enough for me to DNF a book, but with Brigitte’s witty prose and stellar writing (and probably my own experiences growing queer in the PH), I only noticed the not-so-fast pacing after I’ve read ‘til the end. I’m not complaining, mind you, because I think the it was just right to tell the story’s grit, to make the reader understand where Sam was coming from, as well as all the other well-rounded characters.
I loved that it started the way it started. No spoilers but here are hints: vintage(?) Nokia phone, genderbent American Pie scene and “we’ve all been there, one way or another” LOL
The romance is sweet, touching and the author managed to make me root for Sam. Even when he seemed to be making mistakes with all the confusion, I wanted so much for her to be happy.
I also loved that it touched issues that are dubbed controversial and difficult. The way this book tackled authentic queerness, from the first realization down to the struggle of acceptance is notable. I also loved the treatment with the ‘villains’ and how their methods and motivation to be that cruel isn’t downplayed or over shown. That’s precisely what happens.
Lastly I weep for Sam’s Papa.
I highly, highly recommend this book! In fact, I already asked my niece to read it and as of this writing, she’s starting the last chapter (we’ve been fangirling over the book at lunchtime today!). It’s not for everyone, that’s true, but I wish everyone would read this. It’s lovely, sometimes sad, but a good read overall.
5 of 5 Stars. A+ writing and A+ content. Thank you, Brigitte, for being brave to tell this story.
*This review also appears on my personal blog: bentchcreates.tumblr.com
The highs and lows of being a young adult experiencing a turbulent romance with someone wiser, worldlier, mature. The distinctive quality of a "one true love" moment is here, palpable, and bleeding through the pages. You cannot help rooting for the protagonist to have a successful love after her last one, denying her of existence and existence. In addition, it also showed what it means to love someone of the same sexual identity and gender in a conservative town with traditional views; in a place wherein love is conditional and rewarded as long as you follow the rules. It's suffocating. Love it for Sam to run away and never look back.
That being said, I wish she fell in love with someone closer to her age. After all, she still had "-teen" tacked on when the book began. While the book ended with her aged 22-24 years old when she reunited with Ciara/Mrs. Alves, I still found it odd. I mean, Ciara started out as a child's confidant. Might I say the "unnatural" comes from a widowed older woman falling for an obvious minor, and not because they're both sapphics? Sam may have a crush on Ciara, and Sam's allowed to have that and explore those feelings. That does not mean Ciara should reciprocate. That's something to think about.
I wish it gave the mother a redemption arc the way the father had one. I know the dad is gay and is actually in love with another man, but it isn't fair that he gets away scot-free leaving the love of his life, fooling a woman who was committed to him, and hiding his identity from his child. There's a lesson here that wasn't able to flesh out. And I want the mother to have a redemption arc because she's just doing what she knows is best for her child. It's not her fault she's narrow-minded when she's also a mom trying her best.
Lately, I’ve been trying to get more into Filipino books, and I’m really proud to have picked this one up. The story starts uniquely, covering the sexual adventures of our protagonist’s friend, Christina, and her boastful attitude about being the first to masturbate among her peers, but also the first to get pregnant as a teenager. This sparked scandalous responses from the Christian community that surrounds our Sam, and we journey further into more instances where the people around her try desperately to villanize sexuality, and most especially sexual orientation, which leaves a dent in Sam’s knowledge about herself and her own sexuality. This proves to be rather crucial and dangerous because she soon comes into terms with our love interest, Clara, whom she loves but feels shame for feeling that way. I must say Bautista has created a character that absolutely reflects me, a gay teenager whose sexuality I hide like a Nokia, wedged between my thighs and under a blanket. She also made a lot of quotable points about religion in the Philippines, all wrapped up in a nice, cute but equally serious WLW coming-of-age. I put off one star, however, because I’m not much a fan of the writing style, as well as the ending leaving me hanging and unsatisfied.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Written in first person, from the POV of 19-year-old Sam, and set in some very Christian town in Laguna, Philippines, 𝑫𝒐𝒏'𝒕 𝑻𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝑴𝒚 𝑴𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 started off with hilarity -- with humour that made me literally guffaw and hooked to its story from the very beginning. And then, I would find myself upset and frustrated over topics such as homophobia among Christians, bullying, depression, suicide, and more homophobia, and body-shaming courtesy of your 𝙩𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙨 (who call themselves Christians *gags*).
But the humour - while highlighting the up-to-this-day hypocrisy among many Christians - balances with the weight of all the aforementioned anger-inducing, heartbreaking topics.
This truly is a very satisfying, coming-of-age story! I did not want it to end. I sincerely honestly hope Brigitte Bautista is currently working on her next F/F book...
A new adult fiction book fit for the 21st century and a binary reading--either 1 or a 0 in general. And it's a 1 for me. It's a blend of positive and negative, testing the value of perspective. Centered on a subject that not everyone will agree on, this book will burst out curiosity and will keep you company in a heartwarming manner. It's a love story that takes twists and turns, like any other love stories, but the struggle of keeping the love story alive is what this book's all about. (Not to mention the humor here and there XD storytelling's superb *thumbs up*)
my god..... it now just struck me how much representation really does matter. i think this is the first lesbian filipino book ive ever read and this already means a lot to me. sam's life was laid out and i felt like i was just going through my own photo album growing up. just a hundred pages compact with such hyperspecific relation to a life of a filipino lesbian raised in an aggressively conservative religious home. i wish i had read this earlier in my life... it would have been nice to have 15 yr old me tumble upon this and save themself of the years of self loathing.
A história é legal, mas o livro é bem curto, então tem muita coisa que não é desenvolvida. O livro toda hora traz flashbacks da infância da Sam como uma tentativa de explicar as ações dela no presente, o que eu compreendo e acho legal, mas tem uma hora que isso se torna desnecessário, que seria muito melhor falar mais sobre o que a personagem está vivendo naquele momento, parece que toda a história culmina em um ponto, mas que acaba super corrido e abordado em literalmente 4 páginas.
It was a really interesting read. It pulled me out of a reading slump since it was a quick read. However, I needed more from the ending. There were so many things left undiscovered, making the end of the story feel a bit rushed. I did like the fact that I saw my relationship with my own mother in Sam and her mother’s relationship, and the fact that religious trauma was discussed upon in the story.
This was so good! I, initially, had no idea what the book was about (Yes, it was a cover buy. Sue me.), I was pleasantly surprised tho! The wit, the humor, I LOVE. I wasn't that into the relationship because I think it could've had a more solid build-up, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book. This one's a great read, highly recommend!
It’s been a while since a book hit me the way this one did. Unsure of it’s the sexuality crisis or the protagonist being a Filipina or the protagonist living within a Christian community or the author being Filipina herself but this book sent me into a spiral that one can only feel when they relate so intensely to a book that each word hits too hard. I wish it was longer. Such a good, short read.
Traditional Filipino culture was shown vividly, funny yet dramatic as you read it in a child's perspective. As someone who grew in the province I very much relate to some of the scenarios outside the church.