Hi guys! Today (or tomorrow) is my last day of school, and I am so relieved to finally be on Christmas Break. I’m going to use these next two-and-a-half weeks to rest, bond with my family, and catch up on a bunch of school/college-related stuff. I am also very glad to be a part of the Everlasting Nora Blog Tour, hosted by the wonderful Kate at The Backwards Bookshelf. I really enjoyed and loved Marie Miranda Cruz’s (a Filipino author writing a book set in the Philippines!) debut novel, and I hope you enjoy my review.
About the Book
An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines’ North Manila Cemetery.
After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.
When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.
With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.
Trigger Warnings: violence, child abuse, classism, extreme poverty / hunger, kidnapping, descriptions of blood and other serious injuries.
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.
To be honest, I have not read very many books that feature Filipino main characters. In fact, I could probably even count them on a single hand if I tried. When I first heard of the opportunity to join the blog tour for Everlasting Nora and have the opportunity to read and review this wonderful debut novel, I jumped at the chance. As a Filipino-American who was born in the Philippines, moved to the United States when I was three, and visits the Philippines every two years, I knew that I had to read this book. Combine that with my love for Middle Grade, and Everlasting Nora was the book for me.
Everlasting Nora is a beautiful yet authentic depiction of life in one of the poorest parts of the world that infuses Filipino culture with conflicts and aspirations that many impoverished people endure. I had visited the Philippines for two months in the summer, and seeing the poverty and harsh conditions that millions of people have to live in wrenched my heart. My family has lived comfortably here in Tennessee, but Everlasting Nora is a refreshing read that reminds you that there are families and even children out in the world where dire poverty is their reality and livelihood. Imagine living in a cemetery–yes, a cemetery–with a mother who splurges money on gambling or unnecessary goods. Even worse, imagine a child, rather than playing out in the streets and studying at a nice school, has to work as a clothes washer or even beg to random strangers, receiving an amount that amounts to what equals not even $1. This may sound unfathomable, but Everlasting Nora is a powerful testament that this happens every single to thousands of children around the world. It reminds you that we, who are very blessed and privileged in life, have an obligation to help those in need, to help those who would eat scraps from a trash can. During my visits, it makes me tear up to see a child walk up to you or someone selling everlasting flowers, only to be rejected. It is even more tear-jerking to imagine that many parents (not all, but many) but use that money on gambling, drugs, or alcohol rather than helping support his family. It’s a harsh and crazy reality.
To see all of the Filipino culture and life throughout Cruz’s debut novel made me so proud and happy as a Filipino-American. My heart sung as I saw foods that I’ve encountered or eaten and vocabulary that I’ve heard or spoken. Everlasting Nora helped me embrace my heritage even more, and it has even taught me a few things. It has provided me a better perspective, a powerful glimpse, on poverty in the Philippines. Readers not familiar with the Filipino culture will learn a tremendous amount about not just the life of those in the Philippines but also the life of those who are impoverished in the Philippines (which is nothing compared to the poverty here in America).
Nora’s journey to find her missing mother and a way to get out of poverty is filled with lovable characters, unwarranted kindness, and resilience in the face of evil and obstacles. Nora will inspire readers will an everlasting hope as she experiences yet overcomes pain and tragedy while fighting against gang members, judgment from herself and others, and surmounting financial troubles. I truly believe this is a book that must be read in classrooms, libraries, and homes across the nation. It is a stark yet gripping representation of the extreme poverty millions of Filipinos face today that will inspire and deeply resonate with readers of all ages and economic backgrounds.
About the Author
Marie Miranda Cruz was born in the Philippines. She spent most of her formative years moving between her hometown, Cavite City, and several cities in the United States while her father served in the United States Navy. When her dad retired, she moved back to the Philippines where she completed both high school and college. The first holiday she experienced in the Philippines was All Saints Day. It was this experience that inspired her to write her first novel, Everlasting Nora.
Marie now lives in Los Angeles with her family and a tank of fighting fish. When she isn’t writing books for kids, she may be analyzing chromosomes in a genetics lab, reading a good book, or knitting ponchos and fingerless gloves.
She is represented by Paula Munier, Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC.
Follow the Rest of the Tour Here!
- Review, fanart, and quote graphics from Divine (Vinedicated)
- Review and feature post from Erica (Living a Hundred Lives)
- Review from Rose (Rose Books Blog)
- Review from Justine (Bookish Wisps)
- Review and moodboard / aesthetics from JM (The Book Freak Revelations)
- Review from Karlita (Tale Out Loud)
- Review and feature post from Zia (Accio Blog)
- Review and moodboard /aesthetics from Cathrina (Chasing Words and pages)
- Review, book photoshoot, and feature post from Joel (Descendant of Poseidon)
- Review, moodboard / aesthetics, playlists, and quote graphics from Hafsa (Petal Hugs)
- Review from Jennifer (Jen D Bibliophile)
- Review, fanart, and quotegraphics from Nessa (Utopian Pages)
- Review, moodboard / aesthetics, quote graphics, and downloadable bookmarks from Bianca (The Ultimate Fangirl)
- Review, playlists, and quote graphics from Hana (The Wraith Reads)
- Review and moodboard / aesthetics from Aki (Aki Through Books)
- Review and quote graphics from Cara (Little Miss Bookworm)
- Review from Samantha (All My Fictional Children)
- Review and feature post from Kester (Lil Book Lovers)
- Review from Gel (Whimsy Wanders)
- Review from Mica (The Girl on Track)
- Review from Shealea (That Bookshelf Bitch)
- Review and author interview from Kate (The Backwards Bookshelf)
- #EverlastingNoraPH Twitter chat
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare…” (Luke 21:34)
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!
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