Disclaimer: I received a review copy of My Fate According to the Butterfly in exchange for an honest review and participation in a blog tour. Thank you to Gail Villanueva, Scholastic, Kate (Your Tita Kate), Cara (Little Miss Bookworm) and Shealea (Shut Up Shealea) for this opportunity!
I first heard about My Fate According to the Butterfly from my Filipino blogger friends. As I was mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed, I suddenly saw posts wherein there was going to be a middle-grade book about an eleven-year-old girl and the realities of Metro Manila and the war on drugs. That pretty much sold me on this, and when the opportunity came to promote this book through a blog tour, I knew I wanted in.
So, what is My Fate According to the Butterfly about?
When ten-year-old Sabrina sees a black butterfly land on her locket, she knows her fate is sealed. All her life, she’s believed that a black butterfly is an omen of death. The people around her don’t believe that her death is happening anytime soon, but Sab knows she’s about to die. To top it all off, it’s just about to be her birthday in a few days…and Sab really wants to find a way to get her family together after her sister Nadine, and her dad stopped talking a while back. Along the way, as Sab and her best friend Pepper continue their spying escapades on Nadine, she learns that the reason her family drifted apart goes a lot deeper and more dangerous than what she was told. Sab’s journey leads her to confront the harsh realities of Duterte’s war on drugs, but also how drug and substance addiction has impacted her own family.
I absolutely adored this book. Sab’s voice as a narrator is fresh, relatable, and insightful. Middle-grade books are meant to be seen from a perspective of a child, and often times it’s a hit-or-miss, but it’s literally impossible not to love Sab.
Family is a huge theme in this as well. Perhaps the reason I ended up loving this book so much is that Sab’s relationship with Nadine reminds me of my relationship with my own sister. Both Sab and I have a huge age gap with our older sisters, and while that age difference is often a source of conflict, we love each other unconditionally. My sister has helped me and supported me through it all (though she’s a pain in my ass sometimes) and similarly, Nadine is the one that helps Sab figure out her feelings when unwanted truths get revealed and indulges her the day-to-day activities she wants to do even though Nadine wants nothing to do with them.
The one thing I was surprised by? Not only does this book speak about the drug war from the perspective of a child, bring up issues about the blatant corruption and poverty in the Philippines, but it also speaks a lot about the colorism and colonial mentality that is still rampant around the country today. From the various whitening skincare products that continue to take over every department store shelf to the blatant worship and adoration of those with whiter skin….these effects of colonialism are still seen all throughout the country, and Gail excels in bringing up these issues in a mere 240 pages. Sab’s best friend Pepper is white, and there are scenes in the novel that mentions the latter getting a lot more privilege than everyone else because of her skin tone. It’s not a topic I’ve seen authors touch on, and seeing how these issues affect the youth was really interesting.
Gail Villanueva had written the current situation in the Philippines in such a realistic manner that I felt like I was back home. I’ve missed my daily scoops of dirty ice cream and kwek-kwek after class, the friendliness that comes with befriending Filipinos with a simple Ate! Kuya!, and the simple mentions of Metro Manila traffic. I feel like I can’t scream about this book enough; it’s the middle grade read I wouldn’t hesitate to give to the younger generation.
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
Want to hear more about MY FATE ACCORDING TO THE BUTTERFLY? Check out the blog tour schedule and the bookstagram tour schedule to see when the posts from the other participants are going live! There’s also a Twitter chat on July 27 hosted by my friend Shealea that you don’t want to miss!
Title: My Fate According to the Butterfly
Author: Gail Villanueva
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Source: ARC for Blog Tour Purposes
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
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