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My Fate According to the Butterfly

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* "Villanueva's debut is a beautiful #ownvoices middle-grade novel. Tough topics are addressed, but warmth and humor... bring lightness to Sab's story. This immersive novel bursts with life." -- Kirkus Reviews , starred review When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she's doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her -- on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn't even know why.If Sab's going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she'll have to overcome her fears -- of her sister's anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom -- and figure out the cause of their rift.So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family's past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won't speak to their father. But Sab's adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult -- and dangerous -- than she ever anticipated.Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!

240 pages, Hardcover

First published July 30, 2019

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About the author

Gail D. Villanueva

6 books145 followers
Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino writer and graphic artist based in the Philippines. She is the author of the upcoming LULU SINAGTALA AND THE TAGALOG GODS series (HarperCollins, 2023) and SUGAR AND SPITE (Scholastic, 2021). Her debut novel, MY FATE ACCORDING TO THE BUTTERFLY (Scholastic, 2019), was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, an Amazon Best Book of the Month Editor’s Pick, and a NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Gail was born in Manila but was raised in Quezon City. She and her husband currently live in Rizal where they run a web design company while constantly trying to keep up with the shenanigans of their many pets—dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and random birds they befriend in the backyard. Learn more at www.gaildvillanueva.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 133 reviews
Profile Image for Divine.
333 reviews167 followers
August 10, 2019
This is one of the most relevant Filipino books I've read in my life. I cried shamelessly in public reading this ok??? To read an excerpt of this book just click H E R E!

Filipino culture is overridden with toxic traits brought by 333 years of colonialization from the Spaniards and welp, just general “traditional” yet regressive takes that most of the community can’t seem to get rid of just yet (we are finally progressing though it’s pretty slow). This book was unapologetic with addressing all these root causes in such a *gaspsdidyoujustrevealthat?* yet effective way for the comprehension of a younger audience. This was really educational and I find myself pumping my fists in the air while reading every minuscule flaw that every Filipino (like me) is so sick of.

From colonial mentality, harmful stereotypes of femininity, homophobia, and even white privilege, Gail never shied away from shedding light to all of these while simultaneously making it so easy to read for children. I mean, I can’t qualify as a kid anymore obviously, but upon reading this book it made me realize how much it still stays true and important to be seen not just by kids but also to young adults AND adults alike.

How Gail managed to do this eloquently still makes my heart all gooey with gratitude.

This was in fact, the main reason why I was dying to read this book. It’s not every day that you get this kind of representation which mind you, provides a necessary take and commentary on what really is happening in the Philippines’ war on drugs.

What I loved about it the most though, was how it fleshed this element out through exploring the many casualties–THE FILIPINOS. It provided a different lens yet one which so many readers could relate to. The War on Drugs isn’t an easy topic yet it amazes me how Gail managed to explain this thoroughly in a safe distance for a kid’s level of perception without glossing over it. HANDS DOWN TO OUR QUEEN!

Sab, our MC is in fact a privileged Filipino kid who doesn’t have to worry when her next meal would arrive, or if they will get relocated again from one slum to another, and worry about school. Sab represents the middle-class Filipino kids and in a sense, I loved how Gail framed the story in her lens.

Because let’s face it, the kids who have the capacity to read this book are mostly Sabs who have the proper education and could afford reading this. My point here is that Gail somehow predicted this outcome and was armed to educate and not to shame. Privilege can somehow numb you of others’ sufferings, and this book reiterated how important it is to acknowledge all of our privileges and aim to use it for the better. Literacy is still a major problem in my country and I really love how this book aims to educate and inspire young folks to do more or just you know, be more socially aware.

This book skirted on the father-daughter relationship dynamics and I have to admit guys, I shamelessly cried in public after the reading the last parts. As a 100% daddy’s girl, I can attest that this will also hit you all in all the right places. This book was such an emotional ride mind you!

My last point here is that, despite being initially an MG book, this also divulged on the difficulties of parenthood. I mean, there isn’t an existing manual for “How To Be A Good Parent” and if there is, the world would be quite a better place. But parents just have to wing it and do sacrifices for their family without the guide of any existing manual. Not only that but it also showed how even our parents have their own problems on self concept. Reading through Sab’s father and her mom in some ways reminded me how lucky and privileged I am with my parents and that despite their flaws we are still “one big happy family”. This book reiterated how family is so crucial to an individual’s development and I am eternally grateful for Gail in creating this little book with bigger lessons to impart. THANK YOU.
Profile Image for Kate.
402 reviews237 followers
May 16, 2021
I truly believe that Gail D. Villanueva is one of the greatest Filipino writers of this generation. Even before we became friends and I discovered what an amazingly sociopolitically aware and critical person Gail is (seriously, I could talk to her about current events for hours), I already knew from reading My Fate According to the Butterfly that Gail’s skill in weaving together the ordinary, and subsequently making something extraordinary out of it, is almost unparalleled.

From the get-go, you can tell that this book is an unapologetically Filipino book. Everything about it screams that it is set here, in this country. There are sooooo many moments that Filipinos can relate to: eating kwek-kwek and dirty ice cream, comp shops where you can piso-print or play PC games, birthday parties in resorts on Antipolo or Tanay, and even the less savory things about living in Philippine cities – particularly Manila – such as the wild traffic and the absolutely unbelievable state of our public transportation system.

(That scene where Sab, her sister Nadine, and her friend Pepper end up walking on the tracks because the train broke down? It’s happened to me and several other Filipino book bloggers as well. I’ve walked on train tracks hundreds of feet above a river. I’ve walked on train tracks through a tunnel. Honestly? If you stand in the middle of Manila and throw a rock in a random direction, chances are you’ll hit someone who’s had to walk on the train tracks because the MRT broke down.)

Another thing that I adored about Gail’s writing is how succinctly she managed to condense emotionally difficult and complex concepts into something a ten-year-old girl – and, naturally, the middle grade audience this book is meant for – can understand. I’ve always believed that if you can’t explain a concept to a kid, then you really don’t understand that concept at all. The seriousness of issues such as addiction, mental health, and family transparency are absolutely not downplayed, but they’re also imparted in such a way that younger readers can definitely understand them. It’s a skill not a lot of writers have, but Gail has it in spades.

Read my full review here.

Find more from me:
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Profile Image for Hazel (Stay Bookish).
635 reviews1,615 followers
January 25, 2019
Oh my god THIS BOOK. I love it so much. It captures perfectly how it is to be a Filipino kid living in Metro Manila. And it doesn't stop there, it establishes economic privileges and inequality too, along with colonial mentality. Moreover, the way it examines substance abuse and the war on drugs is so important and moving. I can't help but wish I had this book when I was Sab's age so I could've known better about all this and learned early– I'm so excited for the youth who will get to do so soon. All that said about the many issues MY FATE tackles, this story is absolutely fun and heartwarming. These dark scary times don't take away from Sab's light summer adventures, and I know my fellow Filipinos will laugh, get hungry for local food, and will hope our country can heal and find peace like Sab's family.
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books228 followers
July 23, 2019
"You can either recognize and understand your privilege so you can make our society better, or you don't and let things stay the same."
Profile Image for Beatrice Masaluñga.
1,137 reviews1,662 followers
March 29, 2021
I finished My Fate According to the Butterfly and I enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a middle grade book and this is a great eye-opener to young minds about drug addiction. I love it wasn’t sugar coated and the last chapters were emotional (I teared up).

Stepping in to Sab’s gentle yet inquisitive mind makes me miss being a kid. Her character is so relatable especially the insecurity of having brown / dark skin. (Toxic Filipino culture. I learned to embrace my skin color as I grew up) Of course, I’ll never forget the everyday struggle of commuting in the Philippines. If you survive, you’re the MVP.

This is my entry for PhilMyth Readathon, prompt: Malakas at Maganda — Book written by a Filipino Author
Profile Image for Bianca (The Ultimate Fangirl).
215 reviews34 followers
September 10, 2019
Full review up on The Ultimate Fangirl!

My Fate According to the Butterfly is a must-read. It is a heartwarming novel, wonderful and relatable to its very core. With its wonderful and engaging characters paired with an amazing writing style, it is easy to fathom why Gail D. Villanueva is an author for the ages. Such a story speaks volumes when it brought up relevant social issues that are still happening in Filipino society. I can say that it’s definitely a classic to beat. I wish I had read something like this book when I was younger, but I am so happy that the kids of today can read Sab’s story. It has the heart and soul of a Filipino, through and through.

Should I ever need a present to give to my nieces and nephews in middle grade, I would happily give them this precious gem. Thank you, Gail, for this wonderful story.
Profile Image for Nicay.
258 reviews91 followers
May 11, 2022
Originally posted at dearnicay.com

I know it took me so long to post a book review about this beautiful book, but it is better late than never, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to discuss why I ended up liking this book.

My Fate According to the Butterfly is one of my book wishlists before, and I promised myself that I need to have a copy of this book before I read it, and fortunately, I was able to purchase a copy and I immediately read it.. in one sitting. 😊

I can’t believe it myself that when I started reading it (before I sleep specifically), I finished it that night also. I became immersed in the story that I can’t put the book down.

My Fate According to the Butterfly was all about Sab unexpectedly seeing a giant black butterfly which led her to believe that she will die after seven days. Her father used to tell her that when you saw a black butterfly, it will bring either death or a stroke of bad luck. Because of that, Sab didn’t know what to do, she just wants to celebrate her 11th birthday with her “Ate” (Big Sister) and her Father. Sab’s beliefs and her journey will give us a lesson that will surely touch our hearts.

Before I spoil any of you, I will stop right there. Hehe.

I just want to say a BIG thank you to Ms. Gail D. Villanueva for making this story, and giving us all inspiration.

I don’t know how to express in words how I like this book. To be honest, I have this thinking that I want to share this book with my future children. 😊

Overall, I highly recommend this book to all the readers no matter what age you are. I’m sure that you will enjoy this book, same as what I felt during and after I finished it.
Profile Image for coffee.
361 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2019
I am part of the blog tour being hosted for MFATTB by Kate from Your Tita Kate, Cara from The Little Miss Bookworm, and Shealea from Shut up, Shealea. All thoughts are my honest opinions. And I'll be sharing more fun content on my blog. Check out the full schedule here


Ok, I have a confession to make. When I first picked up this book (after an IG photoshoot, of course, COUGH), I didn't know what I was getting into. I mean, I'm sure I read the summary when I signed up for the tour (...) and I skimmed it when choosing some IG hashtags, but I didn't REALLY know what I was getting into. So imagine my surprise when the story revolves around the dreaded Black Butterfly. The same one I wrote about for my OWLS post on metamorphosis this year

Sabrina (Sab) knows her fate is sealed when the Black Butterfly pays her a visit. It doesn't matter that she's only ten and that her best friend Pepper says it's "only" a superstition. She is going to die on her eleventh birthday, which is a week away. And just like anyone who knows their future holds immediate death, she has one wish. Well, actually a couple but the one that matters most to her is that she can celebrate her birthday at her Lola Cordia's Garden Resort (aka. the place where her dad is living at) with her whole family. Of course, this is a tall order, what with her mother on a business trip that might take longer than a week to finish up, and, most importantly, her big sister (Ate) Nadine isn't on talking terms with her father. She isn't sure why Ate Nadine can't seem to stand the mention of their father, but she plans to find out why and hopefully, reunite the family!


My Fate According to the Butterfly was an interesting book to read. Even weeks after reading it, I probably won't stop thinking about it. I think it's the type of book to create discourse and as much as I love to read fantasy YA titles, I feel like Gail really created something that can be read by a range of ages and in different situations. It's a book that gives you insight about a culture and social issues that I feel many people don't know about, and also how certain mentalities can unconsciously affect children

But let's break it up (or at least I'll attempt to)

The Story


After encountering the Black Butterfly, who lands on Sab's necklace, Sab goes into a frenzy over dying within a week. You usually hear people say that you should live every day to the fullest and like it's your last day. And Sab, who could be described as shy and introverted, finally comes into herself on her journey to discovering why Ate Nadine can't stand her dad. It's actually in this journey that we get to learn more about both sisters and Manila

We learn that while Ate Nadine can't stand the mention of their father, she's actually very like him. When it comes to her news reporting, Nadine will lock herself up in her own bubble. She doesn't like it when Sab touches her papers related to work and while we can see that there's a deep sisterly bond between the two, there's also a sense of detachment. Perhaps I might be reading into it too much, but it almost seems like Nadine is afraid of Sab and her innocence. Perhaps it reminds her of how things used to be

On the other hand, we have Sab who likes to draw, has always had an affinity for it and had a family who supported her artistic side. It is also something she has in common with her dad and she seems to cherish this time of creativity. But possibly, more importantly, is that she has a best friend named Pepper who is her complete opposite and partner in crime. I really enjoyed this dynamic. While Sab often makes comparisons between the two, I felt like they each gave each other strengths

When Sab didn't know what to do or was worrying too much about the Black Butterfly, Pepper would always be by her side to lend a helping hand. Similarly, I felt like Pepper found some solace with Sab and was always proud of having her as a friend

Overall, the story is very basic and reads really well as the POV of a child. I loved the aspects of art since I'm an artist myself. Sometimes it feels like some people just make their characters artists but hardly mention it later on. Not in this case. Here Sab is constantly creating something and there is even an art exhibit that plays an important part in the story. And all the characters have their own passions that make them very admirable

So then why the conflict in figuring out a rating? Why don't I know if I enjoyed this book or Really enjoyed it?

A Feeling of Discomfort


It seems like this excerpt/quote has been making its way around so I thought I'd drop it here too, to use it as reference:
Pepper could have a career as a tween model if she wanted to - girls who have a light complexion usually do. With her blue eyes and creamy-white skin, she's the most beautiful ten-year-old I know.

Ate Nadine said that I think of Pepper this way because I'm a product of colonial mentality. "When Spain colonized the Philippines, they made sure we remember they're better than we are. They had this whole tax system where rich, white Spaniards paid little. We paid more even though we did more of the work, just because we're brown, " she explained. "Our American colonizers weren't any better. Sure, we got more rights and education and all that. But the mentality remained the same - white is beautiful, brown is not."

My sister tends to sound like a boring history book if you make the mistake of asking her to explain something. I just know that my friend's pretty, prettier than I'll ever dream to be.

I don't mind topics like drug use and complex family situations. I also don't mind lgbtq elements, which YES, I love both Ate Nadine (my bi daughter) and my gay/bi dads Wendell and Christopher. And while I enjoyed that these topics are out in the open in a way that educates us, I have to admit that there was something about this book that rubbed me the wrong way, and I especially feel this way during moments like the one I quoted above

If Sab doesn't understand these concepts of the colonial mentality and colorism and privilege, how are middle schoolers going to understand what's in this book? is what I ask myself

I felt Gail did a great job at presenting and "closing" the topic of drugs and the stigma people can carry because of this (not just through the use of words but through the whole story). However, the other topics are less clear cut, especially when we are reading from Sab's perspective who I found consistently bashed her best friend...just because she was light-skinned. It was moments like this where I would squint at Sab because isn't this your best friend? Except that I would then remember that one of the themes in this book is this mentality

I feel like the topics of privilege and colorism are incredibly important but there are a lot of grey areas because there is a lot of generalization in advocacy. What does it mean to be dark-skinned? Where does a dark-skinned Westerner fall in this spectrum of "privileged and disenfranchised"? Are all "white" people taking advantage of privilege? Are all westerners "evil" because they are colonizers (even though technically the individual wasn't the one who colonized)? Should we be targeting just individuals or also larger corporations and governments?

Why should Pepper have to be treated as less by her darker best friend just because she is "white and therefore privileged"? Perhaps this is why I only liked (vs. Liked) Pepper. I felt like her primary role was to show us that colorism and privilege exist

But perhaps it's more discomforting how MFATTB could be an actual representation of what a kid living in the Philippines might be thinking (or really any minority/dark-skinned individual towards their light-skinned counterparts, after all, we don't live in a void). But is it? Sab mentions she doesn't really understand what her sister is talking about when Nadine mentions these "adult" topics, that she just know[s] that my friend’s pretty, prettier than I’ll ever dream to be, and yet she can quote her sister from memory. I feel it's too coherent to be from constant repetition? Perhaps that's what bothered me the most, they weren't really Sab's words

It's something that I go back and forth with and I feel like this discomfort is a good thing because it creates discussion. I want to know what others think. I want to learn what I can do to help rid ourselves (or at least lessen, I feel like we'll never rid ourselves of prejudices) of these harmful ways of thinking.

I can really see this book being used in a classroom setting!
Profile Image for Karlita | Tale Out Loud.
109 reviews79 followers
July 28, 2019

What will you do when death is knocking at your door, knowing you don't have much time to live?

In this story, Gail shows how a small creature like a butterfly can make a person reflect on the things that are far more consequential, that sometimes, the simplest things in life like being with your family is a lot important than anything in the world. Like Sab, she realized that she has to value time and make every possible last moment of her life count. She put an effort to know the real reason why her dad and Ate Nadine had a falling out. But by doing so, Sab finds herself diving deeper into dangerous ground while facing head-on some of the real and controversial issues the Philippines is currently experiencing right now.

As I have mentioned in the interview I did with Gail, two of the things that were emphasized in the story is Duterte's war on drugs and recovery from substance addiction. The reality that some innocent like Kuya Jepoy has to deal with false accusations and unlawful arrests is just equally heartbreaking and alarming.

Most of the time, it brings tragedy that can cause a family to fall apart. He used to be a fun dad until he didn't. He missed birthday parties or when he's with his family, his mind was elsewhere. But with the help and inspiration from Sab and Ate Nadine, he's trying to get better.

See? Family plays a major role in helping someone towards recovery. Giving them a second chance and believing them without a doubt that they can change is also a way to show our support.

The author also captured an excellent description of how Filipinos became a product of a colonized past. Issues like colonial mentality, white privilege, and colorism were perfectly fleshed out through Sab's standpoint. How being white deserves only the best or having brown skin or being a morena is unattractive, so consuming a lot of whitening products, from bleaching soap to whitening lotion, is okay to achieve the standard of beauty that everyone tries to emulate.

On a positive note, Gail didn't miss introducing Filipino food to her readers. We are known for our food and cookery where we take pride how a simple chicken sopas can warm your heart or eating kare-kare feels heaven and indeed very satisfying.

Don't get me started with my favorite pet character in the story, Lawin. He was such a fun addition that gave a child-like vibe and humor who will get anyone's attention. (By the way, he's a duck and I know for a fact that Gail's inspiration for Lawin was her pet, Quakie, who according to her is a real diva!)

At the beginning of the story, Sab believes that she will going to die. From the stories her Dad told her, she knows that a black butterfly is an omen of death. It is one of the superstitions or “pamahiin” we Filipinos believe. Either there's a truth in it or not, it has always been and forever be a part of our culture. What's important is we don't need to rely on any kind of superstitious beliefs because our life is our own.

My Fate According to the Butterfly is a story from the perspective of a young girl who learned the brutal realities in life and along the way, explores more about family, friendship, change, and forgiveness. This book will surely leave footprints in your hearts!

I received an eARC of My Fate According to the Butterfly as a part of my participation in #Butterflytour and this in no way influences my rating nor my opinion on this book.

Full Review at Tale Out Loud | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Tale Out Loud
Profile Image for Neil (or bleed).
965 reviews741 followers
June 12, 2021
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

A straightforward read about the importance of family, superstition and socio-political struggle in the Philippines.

Review soon.
Profile Image for Kath Quiambao Lau.
479 reviews172 followers
November 16, 2019
Check out my Blog Tour post here.

My Fate According to the Butterfly is a middle grade fiction novel set in the Philippines. Sab, our main character, admires his father a lot. He inspires her to be an artist just like him. She believes everything he says including the one about the big black butterfly being an omen of death. When this butterfly appears and lands on her locket few days before her eleventh birthday, she knows that she has to make every second of her remaining life counts. She wants to celebrate her birthday with her entire family and friends but the problem is Ate Nadine, her older sister, and their father are not in speaking terms. Sab doesn't have any idea why so she and her bestfriend Pepper go on a little adventure. They start spying on Ate Nadine. Sab then discovers the real reason which turns out to be more darker than what she's expected.

I loved the characters in this book including Lawin (Sab's pet pekin duck). Sab is very brave and talented. I loved her innocence and willingness. Her friendship with Pepper (a white American) was one of my favorites. I could totally relate to Ate Nadine because I'm also the eldest and I can also be very strict to my brother especially when we were young but it's somehow one of my ways of showing how much I care and love him. Jepoy is another interesting and great character. I also loved how the LGBTQ+ was represented in this book.

Family is one of the main focus in this book which is not surprising because in reality it plays a huge part in Filipino culture. Same goes with superstitions. I know this might sound strange but sometimes these beliefs affect how we live our lives. I've been living outside the Philippines for years now but I still feel nervous whenever I see a butterfly (especially the black one) around me. I also don't cut my nails/toenails at night because it brings bad luck or death. Do I believe in this? No, but I don't want to take a risk.

Instead of focusing so much on the violence surrounding the drug war, the author highlighted more the people involved (users/victims), their struggles and recovery, and how their loved ones (especially the children) are being affected by the situation. The author reminded us that support and love from families and friends really help a lot.

The writing was impeccable! The story is written in Sab's perspective and the author successfully managed to tell a story that has sensitive and intricate topics (such as mental health and substance abuse) in a way that is honest and effective yet very light and insightful. Aside from the war on drugs and corruption, colorism and colonial mentality were also mentioned in this book. I personally think that it's complicated to explain these kind of things to children but the author did it flawlessly. I would definitely let my nephews and niece (who are in middle grade) to read this book. I wish that libraries in the Philippines can get some copies of this book as well so everyone can have access on reading it.

I almost forgot. This is definitely one fo my favorite book covers. It's like looking at my younger self. Brown, thin, short hair. Also, the mention of kwek-kwek, dirty ice cream, chicken sopas, even the traffic, and riding the MRT (Metro Manila Rail Transit) during rush hour made me miss the Philippines even more.

I still have a lot of things to say about this book but I know that my words can't give justice on how remarkable this book is. My Fate According to the Butterfly is an accurate portrayal of what is really happening in the Philippines. It's also a great introduction to Filipino culture because it shows not only the good but also the bad/ugly side. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Thanks to the hosts, author, and Scholastic Press for providing me an early copy of this book. This did not affect my overall opinion of the book.
Profile Image for aloverofstories.
236 reviews31 followers
August 29, 2022
I sort of have mixed feelings about this book. I've been wanting to read this for so long. I was lured by how beautiful the cover is. Overall, I really liked it because, of course, it's set in the Philippines. I loved that the main character was pretty much like me, physically. Brown-skinned. Flat-nosed. Small. I love how this book told A LOT about Filipino culture. Colonial mentality, our superstitious beliefs, our respect for those older than us, etc. It was also nice to read about the setting, which was in Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. I come from the province, but I lived in Metro Manila for about three years, so it was nostalgic to read about life there. The descriptions were accurate. It's like being absorbed in the book and being in the actual place.

I admire how the author was brave enough to tell a story based on sensitive cultural and political issues. Some parts were hard to read. But, I guess, the world needs to know. In the Author's Note, she mentioned that the entire story was based on real events, fictionalized to combine elements of magic and reality.

The story-telling itself was a little bland for me. I was longing for more depth, and I wanted the characters to feel more alive for me. No doubt I liked the representations, but I think I yearned to feel more connected to the characters and the story itself. I don't know. Something just felt lacking for me while I read it.

But I could feel that this book really came from the author's heart. I admire her for it.
Profile Image for meg ✷.
97 reviews37 followers
Want to read
April 18, 2018
"Determined to reconcile her journalist older sister and their father before her time is up, Sab embarks on a quest that sends her on a collision course with the realities of Manila and the war on drugs."

this is a book based on the philippines. A BOOK BASED ON AND SET IN THE PHILIPPINES. i could cry. like, seriously. i can't wait for 2019.
Profile Image for Remy Lai.
Author 14 books172 followers
January 4, 2019

The MC is superstitious, which I can totally understand haha, and the real way that the Philippines way of life is portrayed, warts and all, is very very admirable.

Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
January 25, 2021
3.5 stars

Ahhh this was another adorable middle grade!! I really loved the way family and complex familiar relationships were explored in this one. I always love a complex family dynamic in a book and I really appreciated the way the family dynamic in this one was handled and I especially loved seeing it from the main character’s point of view. I also adored the main character and I am convinced she deserves the world. Her characterization was incredible!! I do wish that we had gotten more exploration of the black buttefly legend because that wasn’t really as big a part of the story as I was expecting it to be. I also wish the author had gone a little more in-depth on the relationship between the main character and her best friend. Overall, though, I really liked this one! Would definitely recommend to anyone who’s looking to fall in love with middle grade!

trigger warnings: drug addiction, substance abuse, violence, gun violence, death, unnecessary arrest, racist microaggressions
rep: Filipino MC & side characters
Profile Image for Nev.
1,053 reviews136 followers
September 10, 2019
My Fate According to the Butterfly is a middle grade story set in Manila that follows ten year old Sab as she tries to figure out why her older sister had a falling out with their dad. This had some surprisingly mature content for a book where the protagonist is 10. Drug addiction, police violence, politics, colonization, racism/colorism, and death are all touched upon within the story.

These aren’t faults, but I think that for adult readers the “reveals” are pretty obvious and some of the messaging might feel a little on the nose. But I would guess that this is a good introduction to these topics for the age group that the book is meant for.

I’d definitely recommend checking out this book if you like middle grade. Especially if you’re excited to see a MG story that takes place in the Philippines or a story that tackles some tough topics.
Profile Image for Sai theengineerisreading.
418 reviews62 followers
August 24, 2020
The thing about wishing is that, somehow, you can believe someone's out there doing the thing for your wish to come true.

And my 10-year old reader self will be elated to know that twelve years later, a book about a Filipino kid is published internationally sharing experiences growing up in the Philippines and representing our naturally brown-skin from cover to content.

I love reading books featuring Asian characters, culture, and experiences especially if it's Filipino representation because I'll surely read it and promote it in my IG feed. With Gail Villanueva's middle grade debut, My Fate According to the Butterfly, I was struck in the awe with the way she delivered the reality growing up in this archipelago without taking the tone out of the target audience's perspective.

Sabrina Florence 'Sab' Dulce has been fascinated with arts and butterfly but one thing that remained etched in her mind about her favorite insects are her father's superstition sharing that when a Black butterfly appears, someone you dearly love will pass away in seven days maximum.

A week before her eleventh birthday, the Butterfly showed itself to Sab and made its way to her treasured locket. And the way Sab's mind interpreted it is that she will be the one to leave this place and she have until next Sunday, her birth day, to live her life to the fullest.

Her birthday wish? To celebrate it in his Lola Cordia's resort in Pililia but her family's set-up make it difficult to achieve. With her Dad Christopher in a rehab facility separated with her businesswoman mother who now lives with her police stepfather, Tito Ed, Sab is left with her busy college sister, Nadine, who has grudge with their Dad for reasons she will soon discover.

To achieve this wish, Sab will need the help of her Fil-Am bestfriend, Pepper Lemington, her sister, a Kuya Jepoy she will meet, and a lot of family secrets to be unveiled.

Will Sab achieve to reconcile her modern family and celebrate her birthday in Pililia? Or will the Butterfly of Death take things in its own hands (or wings?)

This MG novel is an essential read for every Filipino kid who will surely relate to Sab's story in different ways. As I said before, reading characters that fits your label and color and culture is an empowering thing and as a Filipino kid who used to escape using Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, Sab's story will surely stay in my shelf and my love for this book will never run out. Watch out my future kids! This book will be one of the many Filipino books you'll read and (hopefully) love, too!

From her personal and family experiences to societal issues that managed to affect our future generation who should be focused on studying and enjoying life, Sabrina is the face of the modern Filipino image and the way this represented us unapologetically in the international scene? I'm sure more aspiring writers will soon surface and share stories about growing up in Pearl of the Orient.

RATING: 5stars
Profile Image for Bookablereads.
75 reviews6 followers
July 24, 2019
To be honest, the first time I saw the book I wasn't interested at all as I don't do Middle Grade except Rick Riordan. But when I learned that the author is Filipino, I told myself "Carmel, you  should definitely read and support it."

Here in the Philippines, it is common that when you saw a butterfly it is more likely that someone is going to die or bad things will happen. Sabrina or Sab is a 10 year old character in the story that believes she is going to die because she saw a black butterfly inside their house. Now, torn between reconciling her sister and father Sab learns the harsh truth of what it is really happening in the Philippines. 

Plotwise, Gail wrote My Fate According to the Butterfly with such ease that readers can vividly enjoy and imagine the reality of the world through the perspective of a young girl. Different scenarios like eating the famous dirty ice cream and kwek-kwek in the street is so refreshing to the eyes. There's also the MRT scene which is a common scenario here that shows that a country has its flaws sometimes. 

When reading the book, you can see how beautiful Sab and Pepper's friendship is even they are just children. You can see that no matter what the world throws them they are still with each other's side.

One specific thing in the book is where there's an Operation Tokhang where Sab, Pepper, Nadine and Jepoy got a ittlee involve.  For those who didn't know Operation Tokhang it is a thing here in the Philippines where police is raiding a specific place to capture the people who uses or sells drugs. And that for me is kinda alarming because a 10-year old child got to experience that kind of brutal thing. I know that even if your young you should be knowledgeable about it. But being a teacher, for me children should not see and experience it as their consciousness is still fragile. They are things that children should not experience as it may help them to have trauma and be accustomed with that thing. But with the world today we cannot avoid that and we mature and old people should just guide them.  

One funny and interesting in the story is Sab's pet. Not just like the other book, Sab's pet is a freaking DUCK. Can you believe it? It's a DUCK as in D-U-C-K. Nevertheless, it's so cute and refreshing. 

To wrap it all. My Fate According to the Butterfly is a refreshing story about the harsh truth of the world through a perspective of young girl. 
Profile Image for Jeni.
2 reviews
November 14, 2022
This book is reminded me of home and growing up in the Philippines. It was extra special because I could see the places in the story as I am from that part of Manila/Rizal. It’s also nice to have a strong female Filipina young person main character. I’m glad that this has been nominated for the Japanese Sakura award. Keep Writing! Salamat po.
Profile Image for Akisha.
54 reviews6 followers
July 27, 2019
I’m very much pleased to say that this book is one of the few books that was able to portray the realities of living in the Philippines really well. Hands down on that part. At first, you might think “oh this is just some sort of contemporary book” and it’s okay. You’re entitled to your own wrong opinion. Kidding aside!! My Fate According to the Butterfly is so much more than that. The author deserves an applause for confronting a lot of timely issues in an appropriate manner in the book. Gail D. Villanueva tackled colonial mentality and colorism in the Philippines. She also discusses the issue of drug abuse and war on drugs that are both widespread issue in the country. This is such a great book I recommend which you can read with youngsters and have a discussion after. Although the book raises a bunch of social issues it still doesn’t take away the lightness of reading it.

The book is written in first person point of view and even though I don’t really have a strong preference in this matter, it made it feel like more personal whilst reading the book. I felt like I was summoned to the story itself and personally experiencing what the characters are experiencing.

My Fate According to the Butterfly made me feel seen. Represented. And most importantly, I felt home. For that, this book instantly earned a special spot in my heart.

Gail D. Villanueva’s strong voice and delicate writing style offered an easy yet poignant and impactful read. Basically, this book is an engaging and charming #ownvoices middle grade novel that proffered a vivid glimpse of the culture and the reality (also the harsh ones) of living in the Philippines.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
May 22, 2019
Thank you to Scholastic Press for an ARC of this book.

Sab thinks she's about to die. She just saw a black butterfly, which her father told her is a omen of death. Her best friend, Pepper, and her sister, Ate Nadine, don't believe it's actually going to happen, but Sab can't help by worry about it. It also happens to be just before her 11th birthday, and what she really wants this year is to find a way to get her dad and sister to start talking again after they mysteriously stopped about a year ago. As Sab tries to bring everyone together, she learns more about what tore them apart, and family secrets are revealed.

I love middle grade stories set in other countries. This one takes place in Manila, Philippines, and looks at the drug trade and the impact it has on families. Many books about drug use are aimed at older middle grade audiences, while I felt this was an excellent book to speak to a younger crowd. Sab's gentle awakening to her father's history with addiction is a great way for readers to learn about the topic with her. I also love that her parents are both in new relationships, and there is a supportive network of adults and older teens to help and care for her. I'd love to see this book in classroom and libraries after it's released on July 30th.
Profile Image for M.L. Little.
Author 13 books44 followers
June 23, 2019
@kidlitexchange #partner:
Well let me say I loved this book. Guess how many previous books I had read set in the Philippines? Zero. This book absolutely immerses you into the world, language, culture, and surroundings of the Filipino people. It sparked my interest so much, I began exploring the country on the Internet and Google Earth. If I did those things, so would a curious kid. It’s an amazing introduction to the Philippines.
As for the story itself, I loved 11-year-old Sab and her panicked notion that a butterfly has determined her fate (hint: it’s not a good one). I loved the troubled, untraditional, yet still intensely caring family. Sab and her friend Pepper were such real kids to me and a joy to chase through the markets and shopping centers as they got crazy ideas and tried to repair broken relationships.
This book releases July 30, 2019, and will make a perfect late-summer read!
Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing me with a review copy—all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Christina Soontornvat.
Author 32 books495 followers
June 17, 2019
I loved the story of Sab, a sharp young girl growing up in modern day Manila, who is trying to figure out how to bring her family back together after a mysterious rift. Along the way, she also confronts issues of privilege, colorism, and addiction. This book serves up a powerful commentary on the many consequences of the Philippines’ war on drugs. And even while it covers these many important issues, the story still remains light - Sab and her bestie are so funny! I loved that it took place in the sleek, modern capital city, which is a setting many in the West still don’t expect when they think of Asia. I think young readers are going to love this.
Profile Image for Chessy Cat.
8 reviews
July 15, 2021
This book was really interesting, and it got me thinking more about social issues in the Philippines. The main character, Sab, is very different from me, but I can mostly understand how she thinks and feels in situations. In the course of her mission to get her family back together, she encounters problems and learns of some of the wrong and unfair things in our country. But the story also encourages us to have faith in people, and that people can change, and also to learn more about social prejudice, so that we can do something about it. A beautiful story about family and about growing up and change.
Profile Image for MCZ Reads.
265 reviews19 followers
July 30, 2019
I received an ARC from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.

Sabrina Dulce, known as Sab, is a week away from turning 11 when she sees a black butterfly. Her estranged father once told her that a black butterfly represents death, and that seeing one means someone will die. Sab decides to reconcile whatever conflict caused her father and her sister to stop speaking before before her birthday, in case she's the one meant to die. Sab races against the deadline to uncover family secrets and heal the rift in her family.

This book would make an excellent classroom read because it covers many topics that would be good for discussion. The story is set in Manila, and it covers aspects of Filipino culture such as food, customs, honorifics, etc. The book also tackles "real-world" issues, from family members with substance issues to non-traditional family structures (Sab has three dads and a pet duck). It addresses how privilege functions in a post-colonial society, although I felt that the character's discussion of economic privilege was better handled than the mentions of colorism. I'd recommend this for readers aged 9-13, and I'll be suggesting it to teachers in that age range that I know.
Profile Image for Jessica.
329 reviews39 followers
August 4, 2019
Thank you Scholastic Press for sending an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have written a full length review on my blog and here is an excerpt:

Written from a child’s perspective, this book was clearly written for younger audience. But, it has so much potential and important messages. Firstly, this book highlights on drug abuse issue and the impacts of drug abuse on our loved ones. It was written beautifully and not only through Sab’s family, also through the photo exhibition in the later part of the book. I love the family relationship and the warmth of Sab’s family. We Asian family may not always telling one another I Love You every other day and we definitely show love in our own different ways. Sab’s father also is portrayed as bisexual and it didn’t feel like, “oh wow! a representation!”, it felt normal. The way the author has written it made me feel like, “oh okay, the father is bi and it’s perfectly fine.”

One of the most important element of this book is the symbolic black butterfly, and other superstitious beliefs in the Philippines. The funny thing is, in Malaysia, we have the same belief. I could highly relate when Sab says that black butterfly could mean death is near or a soul of our loved one who had passed away is visiting us.

For more: https://jessicabooksblog.wordpress.co...
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