Every few months, you’re going to read one book that is really going to tug at the heartstrings. Some of them will be fantastic YA novels that take you to another world and fight off evil and defend the distraught and tormented. Others are more contemporary, and the issues are very much real and current.
My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva is that book, and it’s definitely one of the most sincere stories I’ve read this year. For my international readers, this middle-grade novel takes you to the heart of present-day Metro Manila, and lets you travel the metropolis with Sab, a precocious ten-year-old who, like many Filipinos in any age, is superstitious. The book also talks about the political topics of our time: extrajudicial killings, the “drug war,” and other topics that we Filipinos know so well and do our best to deal with as we go along our lives.
This, my friends, is my review of My Fate According to the Butterfly.
would like to thank Caffeine Book Tours and Gail D. Villanueva for this opportunity to read and enjoy the My Fate According to the Butterfly e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Unlike other reviews, this one does not contain any spoilers.
Light and deep, smart and funny, crushing and hopeful all at the same time, My Fate According to the Butterfly will open your eyes to both the world’s potential for magic, and to its harsh realities.
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 Ate Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Ate 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.
★ “This immersive novel bursts with life.” — Kirkus, Starred Review
“At once rich in the vibrant culture of the Philippines and universal in its focus on family and forgiveness, My Fate According to the Butterfly is a soaring tale of hope that will be sure to touch the hearts of all young readers.” — Ruth Behar, Pura Belpré Award-winning author of Lucky Broken Girl
“Superstition, family, and friendship are the hallmarks of this remarkable debut. I adore Sab – and readers will, too.” — Erin Entrada Kelly, Newbery Award-winning author of Hello, Universe
“Gail Villanueva’s debut novel captures all the richness of the Philippines, the heart-pounding thrills of a great mystery, and the warmth and wonder of growing up. This is a simply wonderful story that’s filled with magic, intrigue, family secrets, and hope.” — Kate Messner, author of The Seventh Wish and Breakout
About the Author
Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer, an entrepreneur, and a graphic artist. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly, is coming from Scholastic Press on July 30, 2019
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I honestly thought that this would be a “kiddie” story because of my prejudiced notion that kid lit and middle grade novels would be simple for kids to understand certain values.
Boy, was I wrong.
Sab is a joy to read because she carries the innocence and impressionable qualities of any other child growing up in 21st-century Metro Manila, especially the current administration’s antics. At the same time though, she is very intelligent and sincere, and honestly I love the troubles she gets into because, I think, many of us has jumped into conclusions and did some stuff that might have dire consequences after. Sab is superstitious yet realistic at the same time, and she values her relationships while addressing the issues that come with family squabbles. While she wants to make her non-traditional family come together for her birthday, she also understands the challenges she and her relatives go through.
Behind all that, she begins to awaken to the reality of Philippine society. Social inequality is a large theme in the story, particularly sub-themes of colorism, the government’s anti-poor policies, people who are forced to leave their homes to find work in the city to sustain their families back home, and other issues that I personally have to deal with on a daily basis. Gail has written these issues and more in a poetic way that makes us all realize that even a child can see what’s wrong in society, and that we should we brave enough to ask why, and for their sake, do something about it.
All Sab wants is to have her family be together for her eleventh birthday. Can you blame her? But with a black butterfly and the deadly superstition behind it that appears out of nowhere, will her wish come true?
Be sure to read My Fate According to the Butterfly to find out. 😉
Interested in seeing who else enjoyed the book? Read what these bloggers think!
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