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My Heart Underwater

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  39 reviews
After Corazon's mother catches her kissing her older female teacher, Corazon is sent to the Philippines to live with a half brother she barely knows. There she learns more about loss and love than she could have ever imagined.

Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at her Catholic school. She’s attending on scholarship, she keeps to herself, and her crush on her teacher Ms. Holden d
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Quill Tree Books
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  187 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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I'm leaving this unrated (maybe for now, maybe forever) because I have a lot of conflicting feelings about My Heart Underwater.

I don't consider myself #ownvoices for this book because the main character is Filipino-American, but I want to recognize that majority of this story is set in the Philippines - specifically, Quezon City, where I stayed for nearly seven years. So I will be commenting on how the setting is portrayed.


I remember that phrase - those who don't study history are doomed to re
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
After reading Randy Ribay's THE PATRON SAINT OF NOTHING, I am sooooo eager to read more YA about the Philippines ...more
Bookphenomena (Micky)
3.5 stars

This was a gritty LGBTQIA coming-of-age story that moved from the US to the Phillipines. If you like messy family drama, this one will fulfill that remit. It had an inappropriate teacher-student relationship which I struggled with somewhat but there was a satisfying developing in the main character’s understanding over that element which helped how I felt.

It was a story of two halves for me, a more gripping first half, full of drama but a slower-paced second half that was wonderfully ri
Oct 11, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2020-releases, owned
I'm curious to see how Philippine culture will be represented in this book. ...more
Grace Talusan
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the debut novel by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, My Heart Underwater, we follow Cory after a crisis sends her from her home outside of Los Angeles to Manila, where she creates a new home with the half-brother she didn’t grow up with. According to those around her, 17-year old Cory is a SoCal FilAm Catholic school tomboy, but the description that hurts the most, “the worst mistake of her life,” comes from her impossible crush, a new teacher. Fantauzzo’s coming of age novel is a wise, complex explor ...more
Claudio Rodrigo
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing this e-arc!

I adored this book so much! It felt refreshing and rewarding to know that i could understand the tagalog dialogue as i've definitely struggled in the past with other languages. Idk if this is even a correct comparison but this seems like a lighter version of My Dark Vanessa. (I'll delete if it turns out to not be). I also lowkey felt nostalgic for a bit, having lived nearby QC myself.

My "problem" with this book not person
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for the ARC of this book.

This is a great novel about finding yourself. In the beginning, I could really relate to Corazon on so many levels: her trouble fitting in, her not knowing what she wants to do in life, and that all-encompassing teenage sapphic crush made worse by Catholic guilt. Flores Fantauzzo does an incredible job portraying the vivid details of an adolescent crush, and i felt like I had been transported back to high school. When
Sasha Zatz
full review soon but this was so emotional, beautiful and unique, i really loved it. it was a story of healing, friendship and family that broke my heart and put it back together :)
Luke Reynolds
ARC Review (11/28/2020, received through the author and Dini Parayitam)

Reading My Heart Underwater was quite a journey. Over the course of forty-three days, I read a final pass ARC received through a mentor from a summer writing program I'm a part of, a good friend of the author's who was credited in the acknowledgements. Then I found the e-book and e-audiobook on Libby, so I checked those out for a bit. Then on my birthday, the hardcover was a gift from my parents, so I finished the novel by fl
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
My Heart Underwater is a touching story about self-discovery and acceptance, as well as about the relationships you encounter in life and learning to balance them and tell good relationships from bad. When the novel opens, Corizon (Cory) is going to a catholic school and is experiencing guilt over being gay. She regularly prays to the statue of Mary for forgiveness for her crush on her History teacher, and she feels as if she does not live up to her parents’ expectations. All this leaves her emo ...more
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading My Heart Underwater - a coming-of-age story set in both the U.S. and the Philippines. As a Filipino-American, I wish that I had more access stories like this when I was growing up, and I was grateful for the little details - whether descriptions of food, micro-agressions, or arriving at the airport in Manila for the first time - that I could relate to. The novel also shows variety in Filipino-American experiences. I was particularly drawn to the development of Cory’s ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely beautiful. I got an intimate look at Corey and I wanted to give her a hug by the end. I also enjoyed learning about the Philipines, and the setting felt almost like its own character. Corey made a great main character, and although there were some boring parts of this book, it still was a wonderfully done novel full of character and emotion. I would recommend this to someone who wants to learn more about the Philippines through a personal lens. Full review at The More We ...more
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it

Corazon (Corey) is a 17y/o queer, Filipina, Catholic student who is sent to the Philippines to stay with her half-brother after her mom catches Corey with her History teacher in the hospital parking lot where Corey’s dad is in a coma. ⠀

Fantauzzo wrote Corey with the nuances of loss and longing for the things we don’t understand in a beautiful way. ⠀

Her trip to the Philippines turns out to be a defining moment in her life where she not only understands her self, but also her family and their hi
Kath Lau
Corazon is going through some though times. Her father is in a coma after an accident and the only person she thinks she can understand her is her history teacher, Ms. Holden. The truth is Corazon has feelings for Ms. Holden and when her mother caught the two of them kissing, Corazon is sent to the Philippines. She then discovers a lot of things about her own family and her distant half-brother.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is set in the U.S and the second is in the Philippi
Laurel Mei-Singh
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite YA novel that I've ever read. Fantauzzo tells Cory's story with grace and care, and I spent a lovely weekend greedily consuming the book. Cory's "romance" with Ms. Holden and family dynamics are entirely believable, and Fantauzzo provides a gift to the world by exploring the tortured existence of a queer, immigrant, lower-middle class Filipina American. Some of her images were so relatable that I couldn't get them out of my mind, for example: the plastic cover on the couch in ...more
TOTAL READING TIME: 3 hours, 47 minutes.

This is the second YA book I've read published in the West that stars a Filipino character where part of the story is set in the Philippines, the first one being, of course, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. And as with books set in the Philippines, where the main character is Filipino, the native language is sprinkled here and there, and little cultural things are depicted, I couldn't help but nitpick.

The use of Tagalog was mostly good, except near
Ms. Yingling
E ARC provided by Netgalley

I enjoyed this story and would definitely buy for a high school library.

I always have a handful of students of Filipino origin and try to find books to reflect them and their culture, but this was a bit too YA for my middle school library.
Reviewing for professional magazine- see review there.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I thought it would be fun to read about a culture I knew nothing about, and this book fit. I didn't read the summary carefully enough, and by the time the book was available, I'd clearly forgotten what this was about. I was not at all the intended audience for this. It's a coming-of-age story that has a lot of very heavy elements. I don't even know how to describe them as categories. They're plot points. I don't know if it would spoil the book or not. The author has a gift for vivid, natural-see ...more
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, ya
This is a great story all about finding your place and being comfortable with who you are in the world. Teenager Corazon (Cory) Tagubio, born to Filipino parents living in the US, can’t stop thinking about her history teacher Ms Holden. Every time she sees her in class or meets with her for tutoring she has feelings and thoughts that aren’t appropriate for a student to have. In love with her teacher she soon acts on those feelings, but when her mum finds out there are terrible consequences and C ...more
Bruin Mccon
“I’ll have to ask and answer myself.”

My Heart Underwater is a YA coming of age story of a Filipina American girl who goes to stay with her brother in the Philippines.

First off, at the top, cw: child sexual abuse.

Corazon is having a hard time at her Catholic school in SoCal where all her classmates are well off. Both her parents work hard, are underpaid, and send money back to the Philippines; her father supports his son, Cory’s half brother.

Cory’s only bright spot in her day is a substitute his
Lorna Holland
Nov 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, young-adult
Full review now up on the blog:

My Heart Underwater tells the story of Corazon, a teenage Filipino American. Cory is a troubled teen, dedicated to her studies yet harbouring a secret that goes against everything her religion has taught her. However, when Cory's crush on her history teacher turns into something more than just a crush, it doesn't take long for her world to come crashing down. Coupled with a horrible accident and Cory's dad sustaining seriou
Jennifer Riddle
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Once again I find a lot of the family dynamics relatable. It's nice to read a book that mentions small traditions, like the hand to forehead, in the writing. Some of the food, the gates around houses, the children forcefully selling random things, the phone cards, the word kuya, the traffic patterns, modes of travel, hierarchy of households. It's all familiar and comforting. It feels almost like someone is in on a secret or has seen behind the curtain. For someone to bring so much of Filipino cu ...more
Sherilyn Moreton
Apr 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because I loved the cover - I love the eye catching blue and orange! Someone at my local library is queer because the queer books are *always* at the front of the displays, and for that I am very thankful.

This book is about Corazon, a teen girl going through some tough stuff at home with her parents after her father is injured in a work accident. After she is caught kissing her female teacher, she is sent away to the Philippines to spend time with the half brother she's nev
Snoe Jalen
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a rollercoaster of emotions.

throughout the book, i wasn't too sure how to rate this book since i originally didn't like corazon. but the ending was truly perfect. i love that it doesn't tie up everything in a tight knit and leaves it in a pretty open ending. the characterization of each character felt so personal and i truly loved the development for both corazon and jun.

i have never felt more seen in a book until now. either by ethnicity or trauma, it felt so deeply personal to me. i don't thi
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
My Heart Underwater is a YA, queer, Filipino American book by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo. This debut YA novel explores strained family relationships, loss, self-discovery, and struggle. Overall, I enjoyed this book because I love reading books from perspectives well outside my own and something I wouldn’t typically pick up on my own. There were parts in the novel that I felt I could understand in terms of family expectations at some level, but there were other parts that opened my eyes that I don’t ...more
Alissa Tsaparikos
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It sucked me in from page one and I hated every time I had to put it down. I really enjoyed the Philippine culture that is immersed within every page of this book, especially the Tagalog language that is used throughout the dialogue, sometimes translated, sometimes not. This was a great read also for the emotional journey Cory undergoes as she gets over some really tough things. I highly recommend it.
Dec 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a gay man and someone who was once married to a Filipina and spent a lot of time in Manila, I was very interested in reading this book. I found the main character to be very believable, and someone I could empathize with. The authors descriptions of Manila and life there were very well done. A good read.
Jack Reynolds
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My Heart Underwater's one of those YA books that handles its subject matter with such grace and maturity, it makes several similar books pale in comparison. I fell in love with Fantauzzo's lush writing, Cory as a protagonist and narrator, the story's brisk pace, and the complex relationships described with such care. I didn't want this book to end the minute I picked it up. ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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