When Jory Lalaban, a Filipino postman, finds himself the target of a racially motivated shooting, he is forced to confront long buried memories of his life in the Philippines — how he came to abandon the priesthood to become a worshipper of the Moon; his youth in an orphanage after World War II; the devastating "curse" that forced him and his new bride, Belen, to flee the Philippines for the United States. The shooting makes international headlines, disturbing the quiet life of the Lalabans, a family forced to face its darkest fears. The reader is introduced to a cast of memorable characters like Emerson Lalaban, the son who talks to his dead brother on the phone, but fails to properly communicate his feelings to the man he loves; Michael, Emerson's Taiwanese boyfriend, who vows to never fall in love with an American again; the wife Belen Lalaban, a woman who hears the quirky voice of the Virgin Mary; and William, the racist gunman who demands to be heard. Inspired by an actual event, this funny, rich novel unflinchingly tackles the most explosive topics facing America today: race, religion, and sexuality. .
This novel is loosely based on the 1999 racially motivated shooting of Filipino-American postal worker Joseph Ileto and several people at a Jewish community center in the LA area. Alumit uses a fictionalized version of that event as a departure point for the story of a Filipino-American family (father, mother, adult gay son, and dead brother) where loss, spirituality, and sexuality are major themes. It's a compelling story, and the characters and the relationships between them are fairly well developed -- this was the book's strong point. Unfortunately, it could probably have gone through a couple more rounds of revision, because there are a lot of typos and minor errors (hopitilization instead of hospitalization? How did they miss that?). The writing could also have been a little more imaginative/less cliched at times. But I was pleasantly surprised by the parts set in the Philippines, which were more nuanced than I usually find in Filipino-American fiction. I'd give it a 3 1/2, but I'm being generous because of that.
Following a horrible incident the Lalaban family life turns inside out. With a father who is a mailman and meets a gunman. A mother who works as a nurse but believes she is curse from her old life. And their son who is gay and gets phone calls from his dead brother, only he can hear.
This story tells a story of family, a Filipino family. Alumit did an amazing job in showing what it means to be in a Filipino family, especially one that came from the Philippines. The things they valued, the things they focus on, and the things they believe in. Not saying this is in campus the whole Filipino setting rather it gives that feeling of it.
For example with the mother character. One scene has her returning home and finding the mail full of bills and right away she paid it off with checks and envelope. She is on top of their finance and what's to know what hospital bill be like. My mother is very similar in that way. And I saw her in this character.
Alumit also touched what it means to be a gay man. How you cant donate blood, how your religious parents might see you, selling your body for money. And Alumit also touched on what is means to be Asian American, specially Asian American men compare to Asian from Asian.
Alumit did comment on the masculinity and feminity of gay men that I found was very outdated.
this book is a good read especially for anyone that enjoys Slice of Life stories. The author is philapino and gay as is the son in the story. It is the story of how the son and mother deal with the father being shot by accident in a hate crime shooting. It also deals with the son dealing with the way he has been treated by society,his parents,religion and lovers. I liked it and would be interested in any of his other books.
This was a fantastic book! Noel is a fantastic writer and I hope he continues to write books. I fell in love with every character and felt like I was part of the family. It was cleverly told through everyone's eyes which I loved as well. As I was reading I kept picturing it as a movie, but the more I think about it, maybe a stage play would be better suited... either way, this is a story that i believe should and will be retold through another medium!
I loved Alumit's "Letters to Montgomery Clift" so I was happy to find this on the shelves at The Strand. This book has magic, just like LTMC, but some of the situations are rushed to conclusion and seem a bit unbelievable or improbable, even for a book with magic. That said, Alumit has a way of creating characters you can't help but fall in love with. More than once I was on the verge of tears. I can't say I don't love this book; I just can't say it's great.
This is Alumit's second novel. When the patriarch of a Filipino family is shot, the rest of his family (his wife and son) are forced to deal with the past and the present. This novel extensively discusses race, religion, and sexuality. I liked it, even though it was kind of sad.