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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Butterfly People"

by Robin Lim, AF, 2009, 202p, rating=4

"A cast of characters as multicultural as fiction history can conjure. The clash of cultures: revulsion against female circumcision, American disdain of native culinary habits (dog-eating, bagoong) and even cultural artifacts (woven hangings, wooden saints) and the East-West divide on family values. Weaving the tribulations of being a mixed-race person into a technicolor tapestry, that is Robin Lim's fine achievement of biographical fiction. This work of "magical realism" strikes all the right chords. One is brought to tears and then laughter, and above all to a reflection on the "butterfly effect" as applied to the human condition: how acts of love or cruelty in the past, at disparate places, could have repercussions in the lives of people brought together by the tides of history." ~Edgar B. Maranan (book's back cover)
Can you tell that my brother's in town from the Philippines?  I had requested Filipino books from him and he brought me back three... Tall Story, the Filipino edition (I had already read the American edition just a few days before I received these books from him); this book; and one of Bo Sanchez's books that na arbor nang aunty ko (my aunt 'borrowed' ..she's going out of town and wanted a book to read on the flight and of course I was the only one with a book in my purse so there it went!  I won't see that book for awhile.).  Anyways, what a treat it has been to reminisce through the books.  I want more!!

Okay, about this book.  Well, it seemed to go all over the place but the meat of the story was a delight.  It began in the era of Spaniard occupation then moved on to other colonizers, the Americans, the Japanese, and finally the nation's independence.  This tracing was told through stories from several generations of the Lim family, a Filipino family from the northern mountains.  In this fashion, learning about culture and history was an interesting read.  A little taste of East and West culture clashes.  We see the evolution of integration and it's affects ... the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The feel of this novel was as if my grandmother was telling me about our family's history going five, six generations back. Truly there's a warm feeling in having an account of family lineage.  A soup for the soul!  And this book did that for me.  Some stories were sad but then the next lines you'll find laughter, joy, and love.  Such a precious way to honor a family's legacy.  Now, I want to know about my family history.  I have no grandparents left, so I have to nag my parents, aunts, and uncles.  ~I really need to get my genealogy going.

If you can get your hands on this book, grab it!  The Lolas are a hoot'll find moments that you will exclaim, "That's too much information!", but on the same breath roar out a hysterical laughter.  A sweet, tender book.  ~Thank you Ms Lim for sharing.


  1. Hmmm, nice to know about these books.
    A sweet and tender book that makes you laugh out loud, what could be better.

  2. @BookQuoter --I think it was probably more tender for me cuz it was about the roots. --Yeah, laugh out loud funny. :)

  3. Hmm. Haven't heard of this one, thanks for the review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


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