This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on August 6, 2009.
A Filipino YA novel in English
"I Hate My Mother!": Magnetic levitation, a grain of rice & 3 women (Cacho Publishing House, 2007) introduces readers to finding a mother's wisdom in a grain of rice, the parallel between human relationships and magnets, and Bell, her mother, and her sister Cory.
This book made me happy. Not because it's a bright and cheery novel - in fact it has its funny moments but is mostly a serious novel. But because good books make me happy, and this is definitely a solidly good book.
I have heard once that children love their parents and then love them again as adults. "I Hate My Mother!" is about that time in between, when teenagers "hate" their parents. Written in that unique way Filipino teenagers use English, and generously peppered with Filipino words and phrases, "I Hate My Mother!" traces the transformation of Bell's awe of her mother's wisdom as a little girl to her bewilderment, annoyance, and frustration with her mother as a teenager.
But as the years went by, it only became harder for me to understand anything Mommy would say. Even in my most patient moments, no beam of light would shine on me or on Mommy's words. Parang* I was losing all capacity for understanding.
But then again, more and more, I would come to believe it was my Mom who was losing all her wisdom.
Kasi** while I was getting wiser, Mommy was getting dumber. Like she was losing the wisdom Dad always talked about when I was a little girl. And she was losing it fast.
In this novel, Perpilili Vivienne Tiongson gives readers an almost pitch perfect portrayal of the INEXPLICABLE rage many teenage girls feel towards their mother.
I just wanted to feel nothing. For once, to feel like nothing's the matter with my Mom. To just watch her walk across the hall, or even into our room, without having to avoid her, without having to pretend that I was too busy to talk to her or pretend I had not noticed her at all. To not cringe at the way she chewed her food when we sat at the dining table. To not shudder at the slightest touch of her hand on my back. To not ice over at the words "I love you."
There is no clear, neat, happy ending for this novel. No resolution between mother and daughter. But the ending does satisfy in that there is hope. And as one cannot help but get emotionally involved with the story, the ending is also satisfying because it gives readers plenty of room to work out their own thoughts and feelings.
Needless to say, I recommend this book!
Loose English translations of the words in Filipino:
*It was as if...
[I bought my own copy of "I Hate My Mother!".]
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