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America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo pdf download

 

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo
 


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America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo pdf download 


Details of America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo Book

  • Book Name: America Is Not the Heart
  • Authors: Elaine Castillo
  • Pages: 367
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publish Date: Apr 3, 2018
  • Language: English

Book Review:


America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo this is a debut novel that came out in April of 2018 and if you're familiar with the 1948 Karlos boo salon work America is in the heart you won't be surprised to find the themes of the Filipino American experience in both texts in fact the epigraph 

this book is a quote from the other book but in America is not the heart the novel follows a woman who we come to know as hero a nickname that her cousin gives to her and her transition from her life in the Philippines to living in California with her aunt and uncle in Milpitas a suburb of San Jose California in the 1990s hero 

hasn't really had the easiest life she has grown up in a wealthy family in the Philippines went to medical school and then later joined a guerilla revolutionary group in the National People's Army in the Philippines as a doctor throughout the book there are snippets of hero's experiences being a doctor with this group that are revealed as part of the plot and we sort of learn 

how her time with them led to both the physical and emotional torture and trauma which later led to her estrangement from her immediate family so she is not coming to the United States with a particularly happy or joyful or Pleasant background when she arrives in the u.s. to live with her on Uncle her uncle whom growing up she always looked up to he is also a doctor 

she very much aspired to be similar to him we get the sense that she is quite empty devoid of a lot of feeling and sort of lacking the strength to make connections or friendships beyond the house in this new place despite the suburb being mostly populated by people of color she even mentioned that the only two white people she's ever seen are the two guys that run 

the comic book store and many of the people in this community are Filipino immigrants just like her and so it follows naturally that her cousin who is eight years old hero is about thirty at the time but her 8 year old cousin Roni they share a first name and go by different nicknames 

this small girl is her first real solid connection in her new life and it's from driving Roni around to school and appointments that she hero meets a family who owns a great restaurant that serves traditional 

Filipino food and she meets a wide range of people there at the restaurant and she eventually befriends them they become this really big solid group most specifically she meets a woman called Rosalynn who is the most opposite character you could have two heroes quiet secretive emotional stoicism they are not at all the same and it takes a while for them to really develop a strong relationship 

it's Rosalynn and these friends who really helped hero to sort of settle into her new life in the u.s. as an undocumented immigrant as a bisexual asian woman as a member of a less than satisfied working class family and the Navigator of that complicated path of someone who came from privilege 

but fell into extreme hardship without that kind of familial support that sometimes manifests well there are certainly a lot of complex characters in this book to really latch on to it's hard to read about someone with heroes level of complexity no pun intended and not become attached to her but there are some other pieces of this book that actually really elevated 

it for me more than the people in it themselves first is the use of language and while the book is written in English there are close to 200 different languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines and hiro speaks two of them in addition to english her aunt speaks two of them as well but one of them is different and only one of their Filipino languages 

English overlap and the rareness of the separate languages that each of them speaks definitely causes a little bit of tension in the story and it indicates origin and status in this country that they're both from 

but no longer live in and that carries itself over into the United States those those census of status and origin and what comes from being a person who has had the privilege of learning that language or has been in the location in which that was spoken and what that conveyed in the Philippines is still sort of reminiscent 

an undercurrent in the United States and for the characters in this story that's a little unmooring to hear this language that sounds similar to what you know but that you can't understand and this idea sort of pervades for the whole book for us as readers as often the dialogue is written in a language 

that is not English and it's not translated so in some cases the reader understands what's going on from the context and in some cases you don't an english-speaking reader who doesn't speak any of the Filipino languages can feel unmoored from some parts of this story because the translation hasn't been done for you 

I think that that is an excellent effective choice on the part of Elaine Castillo it lends what I would imagine is an authenticity of the immigrant experience to have that happening around you in conversation in an English dominated society and also asks 

the privileged monolingual english-speaking reader to do the extra work to understand all of the story often many of us who are primarily english-speaking readers are not asked by authors to have to do the work when we're reading literary fiction to understand everything that's being presented to us and those who might not have as strong an understanding of the English language

might have to do a little more work this book however turns out around and asks those of us that are predominantly english-speaking and don't speak any of the languages that are presented in the text to do the extra work and I think that that is great and interestingly the author has sort of spoken about this topic in an interview which I will try and link below because 

I think that that is really interesting in literary fiction itself being such sort of a heady genre if you will to ask different groups of people to read books in English that are not necessarily about them to sort of need to go that extra step to do the work to understand the nob 

now in terms of style and structure Elaine Castillo opens the book with a prologue from hero's odds perspective which is written in the second person and so much of the rest of the book is written in the third person although we do get a second person perspective a little bit later on

it sort of comes back for a brief reprise I found the style and the content of this first opening section her aunts perspective to really shape the way that I read the rest of the book it gave a history at a reference point and some version of context that I would never have gotten I don't think from hero's own recollection 

so as she's talking about different events and different people and different people's perceptions of others you sort of have that knowledge from the beginning as a reference point of whether or not what she's saying is true whatever true means and lastly this book really brings the role of food in culture to huge significance much of the book takes place

in a family restaurant and it's clear that individual favorite dishes as they do in any culture provide some kind of background for characters in telling about themselves to others roni Hiro's cousin has particular favorites and from those particular favorites and what she doesn't like others can tell a little bit about her other parts of the story 

our heroes home life with her aunt and uncle and cousin and those are centered around eating and the differences in Ronnie's preferences and feelings that characters have toward American foods versus Filipino recipes and what should we buy at the grocery store and what's the significance of us all eating together as a family and it's enough to make you question 

your own ideas around food and its meaning and dining with others and family and who we eat with and what we eat when we're with them on occasions and it's also enough to make you hungry so have a snack if you're planning to read this book is what I would suggest overall 

I was really impressed with this novel I gave a three and a half out of five stars it's a strong debut of literary fiction and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a family centric story with complex characters if you have a particular interest in the Filipino American experience or the immigrant experience 

this is also an interesting one to check out if you have read this book please let me know your thoughts down in the comments I would love to hear what you thought of it other than that you can find out everything that you want to know about us in the description.



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