Cover Image: Everlasting Nora

Everlasting Nora

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Member Reviews

For those who are interested in the lives of children from around the world, this is the story of Nora who lives in a masoleum in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. After the loss of their home in a fire, Nora and her mother find themselves homeless and move in to the family's masoleum. She and her mother are trying to make a better life for themselves through a variety of jobs, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Keeping a job becomes even more difficult when her mother disappears. Nora becomes a bit of a Nancy Drew as she pieces the clues together and tracks down what really happened to her mother. With the help of her friend Jojo; will Nora be able to find her mother before it's too late? And how can a young girl make a better life for herself on her own?
This book was provided to me for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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From the eyes of a child, you will see how life play with its surrounding. The moment your lives catch fire, truth to be told how your life is going to change and how you’re going to deal with it. A failing assurance of future. A dream. That’s where you will meet Nora. Nora’s voice is the voice of every Filipino striving forward to do what it takes to reach their dream in the shortage of light and the continuous flow of living.

Everlasting Nora certainly deserves my deepest appreciation and salute in featuring a realistic story that not only it is full of moral values and determination but also how rich it is in day-to-day reality which the child protagonist, Nora, has been facing. I may not be in that situation but thinking of ways to survive a single day with the little luxury they have can be really so hard. As Nora is just a child – imagine that – when you should expect her to be in school, and playground, learning, playing and socializing with her peers and friends. How can life be so selfish. Add more, the scenario in front of her – her home, her mother’s new hobby, and the rest (you’ll gonna find it out – don’t want to spoil further).

I have read some Filipino authors and some of them are also good. But this one really delves into what still the invisible society is today – the living quarters in the cemetery, the end-to-end houses build out of pieces of woods, etc., that represents the squatters. As much as I like the book, it is also a big mirror, reflecting how poverty can still be a burden with the less opportunity to make it better due to increasing standards on living in the modern world.

Everlasting Nora is a great book and heart-warmingly good with a mix of braveness, courageous, determination and hope. Always to remember how much this gives me aches and morals of life. Thank you, Ms. Marie, for scribing this wonderful book for the world to see young Nora’s story. A Filipino representation you shouldn’t miss.
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This is such an eye opening book to the reality in the Philippines, regardless whether you live in the metro or in the province. It sad that people that are used poor are taken advantage just because they seem more or less uneducated. I salute Nora for her brave soul and how she kill educates herself after everything that happened to her. 

I want to see more of these types of books in the world, especially Filipino centered books.
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I absolutely loved this book! Very different then any other book I have read. When I first read it was about a girl that lived in a cemetery, first reaction was  this is going to be a scary story. But it wasn't at all. I felt for Nora and her mother. It is very deep with great reflection for all of us to realize what we have and the world we live in. I also truly enjoyed how connected we were with the Philippines, their culture, and their language. Loved that aspected about it. I even enjoyed the glossary of words in the back. Thank you.
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Nora is 12. She has lost her father and her home, and now she and her mother live in the Manila cemetery where her father is buried, in a “grave house.” She and her mother barely exist on Nora’s flower garland sales and her mother’s meager jobs, which she struggles to keep because of a gambling addiction. Nora is fighting for her life, for her mother’s life, and for her future. She loved school, but had to leave, and desperately wants to return. Nora and her mother both become fixed on how to get out of the poverty they live in, though in different ways, until things get even worse and Nora’s eyes open to the compassion and generosity of the community that she lives in, which is full of hardship, but also heart. This story is about friendship, grit and determination, community, and the lengths we go to for those we love. It’s also about really seeing where we are (and the people that are there with us and for us) instead of just where we think we want to be.
Beautifully written, this book tells the shocking story of too many children around the world, but also reminds us of the strength of the human spirit to thrive even in the most difficult circumstances.
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I’m glad there’s a lot of Filipino character representation through the years and this is one of the stories that I can truly say that I felt I can totally relate. The imagery and the feels of the story is definitely felt. It’s like you’re the one on Nora’s shows that’s how effective the author’s narrative.
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Unfortunately, I didn't love this one as much as I'd hoped! The plot felt too slow and while I appreciated the author tackling a sensitive topic, the voice did not captivate me.
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A beautiful story of a Filipino child, Nora, whose life has been marred by breaches in trust and misfortune. Through it all, Nora remains strong and brave, even when things are at their hardest. She eventually learns that part of being brave can be asking for help. Rich with culture and heart, a necessary purchase.
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This is a wonderful middle grade novel about a girl and her mother in the Philippines, who have fallen on hard times and find themselves living in a grave house. Told from Nora, the young girl’s perspective, we follow a couple weeks in her life where their poverty and her mother’s struggles have got them into some trouble. 
Nora is spunky, brave, kind and determined. This is a wonderful novel to shed light on the ways other people live and to develop compassion for situations different then our own. It is easy for the reader to sympathize and connect to Nora and her friends and how more similar than different we really are.

Thank you to Netgalley and the author for a copy of this ARC, all opinions are my own.
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BLOG TOUR AND BOOK REVIEW: EVERLASTING NORA BY MARIE MIRANDA CRUZ
DECEMBER 13, 2018

Everlasting Nora Book Cover Title:  Everlasting Nora 
Author:  Marie Miranda Cruz 
Genre:  Middle Grade, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction 
Publisher:  Starscape Books 
Release Date:  October 2, 2018 
Format:  e-ARC 
Source:  Publisher 
 
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.

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Trigger Warning: violence, child abuse, classism, extreme poverty / hunger, kidnapping, descriptions of blood and other serious injuries

Thank you to Starscape Books for providing me a digital review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way.


Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz is the book I needed when I was younger. Sure, I enjoyed my time with The Baby Sitters Club and The Boxcar Children but reading a book set in my own country to a place I have visited a few times in my life is really something.

Everlasting Nora is set in Manila North Cemetery in the Philippines. Nora and her mom moved into their grave house (yup, you read that right) after their house was set on fire. That fire also killed her father. You might be surprised (if you’re from another country) to know that there are people living in cemeteries here in the Philippines but that really is a sad reality.

THINGS I DID/FELT WHILE READING EVERLASTING NORA:
I feel at home while reading this book. I may have not experienced living in a grave house but since it is set in my own country the feeling of reading this and understanding the small things like local phrases is just a surreal feeling.
I kind of, fangirled. How can I fangirl? I mean this isn’t like other big fantasy book series. I guess I kind of fangirled while reading about my culture in this book. Small things like mentioning local products and famous people in my country is a big thing to me. I grew up reading books set in the U.S. and while it was cool to know their way of living there I was also confused when they mention products and famous people that I’m not really familiar with.
I was hungry for 80% of the time reading this book. Everlasting Nora mentioned mouth-watering foods locally available like banana que. If you ever find yourself here in the Philippines please try those!
I crave for a friendship like Nora and Jojo’s. These two kids really stood up for each other at such a young age. As a teacher, I would love my students to read this just so they can get an idea of how real friendship works.
One thing I would like to point out is the use of cursing in this book since this book is meant for middle grade age. Overall, I highly recommend this book for all ages.
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Stories like this one are so important to give to our young readers, to help them understand other cultures and perspectives. In this book we see poverty, often through multiple generations. We see homelessness thrust upon a family after a tragedy. We see families choosing shelter in a cemetery in hopes of saving enough money to climb out of extreme poverty. We see a culture where poverty drives diet, where education is a privilege not afforded to all. But we also see how this community looks out for it's members, how they become de facto family. We see pockets of hope in what might appear to be a hopeless situation. And we also see how desperation leads to choices that make a situation worse.
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Beautiful, well-crafted story. The characters are believable and well-developed. My takeaway - Life rains on some much more than others, but somehow, rays of sun break through and give us hope.
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After reading the first chapter, I knew that I was going to love Everlasting Nora; I already called it. Aside from the references that made this small Filipino girl proud, I had a feeling the story would tug at my little heartstrings. I was not wrong. Everlasting Nora is the most genuine book I have read this year.

Little things like kulambo, tsinelas, altars, saklaan, dreaming of winning in Wowowee, katol, Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko, suman, made me feel at home. There are also Filipino words and phrases casually mentioned and used in conversations such as Kuya, Lola, salamat, walang anuman, sige, and bahala na. Of course, last but not least, what is a Filipino novel without Filipino food? I swear all the food made my mouth water more times than I could count. Food is such a big part of Filipino culture and seeing all these childhood (and adulthood) favorites made me hungry. I craved for biko, ginataan, and dinuguan among others.

Everlasting Nora is probably the most heart-warming novel I have read this year, and I am more than happy that it is a Filipino novel that is full of Filipino references and highlights Filipino traits that took the title.
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Nora and her mother live in the mausoleum housing her dead father in a cemetery in Manila. After depending on less than supportive extended family, they were forced to move to this shantytown. Life is a struggle; the pair are laundresses and Nora picks up extra money selling everlasting garlands to people visiting graves.  Mama has developed a mahjong gambling habit, becomes involved with a loan shark, and doesn’t come home one night. Their home is ransacked and robbed the next day. Nora, who has become fiercely independent, sets out to find her mother and recover their stolen items and money while also struggling to keep her mother’s job intact. It is only after opening herself to supportive neighbors that her attitude changes and life take a turn for the better.
Nora is a resourceful and compelling narrator, although she tends not to heed others’ warnings or offers to help. She longs to return to school, but her loyalty to her mother, her father’s memory, and the realities of surviving have taken over her life. The story itself, other than its setting, is pretty predictable. The writing is heavy on Nora’s thoughts, but there are some exciting action scenes. Many of the characters are one-dimensional and the many Tagalog words are sometimes difficult to discern, even with contextual clues. The setting is vividly described, allowing the reader to picture Nora’s world. There is no happy ever after ending; but Nora has a new awareness of friendship and kindness, as well as some hope.
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Last August, I welcomed Filipino debut middle-grade author, Marie Miranda Cruz on Behind the Pages for an interview as she talked about her character, Nora. Being able to join the blog tour hosted by Kate at The Backwards Bookshelf and read a book with a character that represents me and a setting that’s all well familiar, my Filipino heart couldn’t help but swelled with pride.

This book respectfully did justice on the portrayal of those like Nora, a squatter, who lives at Manila North Cemetery. THIS. IS. REAL. LIFE!

Known Filipino values were deeply emphasize into the story like respect, love, hardwork, contentment, generosity and unity in “bayanihan” spirit.

❥ Respect — Nora and Jojo always use words like “po” and “opo” when speaking to their elders. It’s one way to say yes but for us, saying opo is the polite way. Using Kuya, Lola, Aling, and Mang to address someone older than them is also a sign of respect and being courteous.

❥ Love — This was shown all throughout the story. The way how Nora cared for her Mama Lorna and how she never gave up despite all the struggles she had experienced just to find her, was truly touching. This goes the same with Jojo and Lola Mercy. At the end of the day, even they are not family by blood, they learned to stick and look out for each other. The love and care they have is what makes them strong and solid.

❥ Hardwork  — There's been a mentioned about carabao in the story which is the Philippines' national animal. It symbolizes perseverance. Just like Nora and Jojo, who were the two great characters that represent how Filipinos are hardworking, ready to do all kinds of odd jobs just to get by in life—from selling everlasting-daisy garlands to being a labandera (someone who washes others clothes by hand) or selling roasted corns, fetched water and painting tombs every All Soul’s Day.

❥ Contentment — If you read this book, this is one of the distinguishing values that was given a great emphasis and will struck you hard, you just want to melt and cry. The way how squatters like Nora seemed content to call the cemetery their home, as long as there’s a roof over their heads or how a steamed rice and a single fried fish was a luxury when they don’t even get the chance to eat three meals a day.

One of the lessons every reader can learn from this story is how we should appreciate everything we have when most people have nothing—nothing to eat, no clothes to wear, or no place to sleep or can call their home.

❥ Generosity and Unity  — This is evident from almost all the characters in the story. Jojo who helped Nora to find her mother, Lola Mercy who cook for her and take care of her mother when she was sick and Mang Rudy who let Nora call her Tito Danny using his cellphone. Even little Ernie was so kind to look after Mama Lorna, Aling Lydia who offer Nora a job at the bakery and Kuya Efren who would write a letter of recommendation for Nora’s application of scholarship.

They are all like A Tree With No Name: Legend of the Mango Tree who in spite being unable to bear fruit and have nothing, were the ones who are kind enough to give.
❝She always said it was good to be generous so that generosity would be shown to us in turn.❞

The author also described this within the story by comparing the squatters like ants who protect each other in order to survive. As a community, they were always ready to give a hand when someone needed help. This has been one of the distinct Filipino values that I personally very proud of.

I also love how the author introduce our local language like “Kumusta ka?” (How are you?) and “Salamat!” (Thank you!), to the readers as well as famous Filipino cuisines or desserts like adobo, banana-que, biko, and champorado.

Marie Miranda Cruz' writing is real and tender. She was able to capture and write a character that was so powerful, detailed with every subtle nuance of emotion and human connections. Nora's voice has shown every bit of bravery who never gave up and could still find hope even during the darkest hours. She is a mirror to those who experienced the same thing and a window that make us realize what we have taken for granted.

Everlasting Nora is a story that navigates the life of a young girl who realized that love, friendship and hope are what makes life truly everlasting. May everyone give this book a chance and as you read this, I hope that you give Nora a special place in your heart just like I did.

I received an eARC of Everlasting Nora as a part of my participation in this blog tour and this in no way influence my rating nor my opinion on this book.

Trigger and Content Warnings: Everlasting Nora deals with violence, child abuse, classism, extreme poverty / hunger, kidnapping, descriptions of blood and other serious injuries
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TBH, this is the first book written by a Filipino author that I’ve read and I’m so glad I get to join the tour!

I’ve read a lot of books. And all of them are set in different locations. Sure, I’ve read some that mentioned Philippines. Having a great tale set in your country, there’s really that proud feeling in it.

Okay, I must say, I was really excited to be able to start on this one and oh boy I must tell you that it did not disappoint! Thanks to Everlasting Nora, I was able to get out of another slump. I was actually able to finish it in just a day.

I. COULDN’T. STOP. READING. I swear this book will surely take its readers by storm. I read chapter after chapter and I was totally absorbed by Nora’s story.

The book is a great read for our young people but I personally think that it should be read by everyone. This contains issues that’s happening in real life. It may be a little extreme because some scenes seems to be really graphic but it’s the ugly truth.

As much as Everlasting Nora is an entertaining read, it also is an eye opener. I’ve got this tight feeling in my chest while reading some of the scenes because Nora is so young to experience a lot of challenges in life. The story was heartbreaking and enlightening at the same time.

Not to turn a blind eye, this may be a work of fiction but everything’s true. Less privileged people live in the cemetery or just on the side of the road. And it’s harder for them to earn money and find jobs that sometimes, they accidentally get into trouble. By reading this, I realized that I’m blessed to be able to live the life I have.

I applaud the author for writing such a masterpiece. I was left speechless in the end. And in awe actually. I had a few proud tears because it was really heartfelt. The book would really make you feel things you wouldn’t expect from a story.

This may be intended for younger readers (MG), but it carries a very powerful message. Everlasting Nora made me feel more proud on being a Filipino. I look forward to read more of the author’s works. Overall, I rate Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz, 5 out of 5 stars!
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Huge thanks to the publisher and my friend Kate from The Backwards Bookshelf for letting me be part of the #EverlastingNoraPH blog tour and for sending me an e-copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.

Ever since I saw my friends Kate, Shealea, and Cara tweeting and hyping up Marie Miranda Cruz’ middle grade debut, Everlasting Nora, I grew quite curious about it and after looking it up on Goodreads and finding out that it is a middle grade novel set in my homeland about a girl who sold Everlasting garlands as a means of living at the Manila North Cemetery, I wanted so badly to jump on board that Filipino rep train. At first glance (at the synopsis), one would easily know that this book is going to be quite an emotional, realistic read, and so when Kate announced that she’s gonna be hosting a PH blog tour for this title, I wasted no time in signing up. Read on to know what I thought of this heartwarming debut.

Like I’ve said, one of the many reasons as to why I loved this book is because of how heartbreakingly realistic it is. Everlasting Nora is a story that takes place in the Manila North Cemetery, a place in the Philippines that screams poverty. Nora, our big-hearted, and persevering protagonist, lives in this area as a result of losing her father and their apartment to a fire. This also happens to be the place where the story mostly takes place and in every single page, readers would no doubt witness how hard life is for a lot of Filipinos, especially for the less fortunate ones, or as referred to in the book multiple times, the squatters. As a Filipino born and raised in Metro Manila, I can attest to the accurate representation of poverty found within this book’s story. For years, I’ve seen so many people unlawfully inhabiting unused lands, and yes, even cemetery mausoleums, and getting to read a middle grade story about these people’s lifestyle broke my heart.

Another aspect that I love about this story is Nora’s relationship with Jojo. Jojo is a hardworking character who works as a water boy and looks after her grandmother who also happens to be his closest relative. They’ve been living at the Manila North Cemetery longer than Nora and her mother has and his friendship with our protagonist made Nora’s story a lot bearable to read. She goes through so much hardships and so whenever I got to read scenes about her and Jojo, it felt like I was literally taking a break from all the pain and emotions. Much like Nora, I depended on him and his friendship with our heroine for short bursts of optimism and I very much enjoyed getting to know him as I did Nora. Our main character is lucky to have someone like Jojo stand by her side against all odds.

And last, but certainly not the least, I appreciated the fact that education and religion somehow played a big role in Nora’s life. In several chapters, Efren Peñaflorida, the man behind pushcart classrooms, makes appearances showing just how important education is especially for Filipino youth. Lots of people agree, Dr. Jose Rizal and myself included, that the youth is the hope of our future. And Nora seemed to have the same idea even after having to drop out of school. If it weren’t for the challenges she went through, and if she had her way, she’d want nothing more than to return to school. Add to that the fact that Nora always turned to God and prayer for help. I loved seeing just how faithful she is and how she always believed that everything will work out okay in the end. It’s hard to feel optimistic in times of great need and so seeing this  quality embedded in Nora made my Filipino heart jump for joy and pride.

“Everlasting Nora is a heartfelt story about friendship, perseverance, love, optimism, and the undying Filipino spirit. It puts a spotlight on an important story about the bonds that make us human, a daughter’s unrelenting love for her family, and the unique qualities that make a person truly Filipino. It’s a moving narrative worthy of being read by all kinds of readers, regardless of one’s nationality, race, or social standing. You need to read this book.”
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This book makes my heart swell because it just hits so close to home. It gives that certain feeling where you just know that this book was meant for you. Highly recommended, especially to fellow Filipino readers craving for an amazing story about family, friendship, and hope, and seeing themselves (or their younger selves) in these characters. More stories like this please?
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Rating: 4.5 stars

Everlasting Nora is a moving story set in the Philippines where we follow Nora, who lives in a cemetery, as she finds her missing mother. A thought-provoking novel that will make you realize how lucky you are.

First, I love how this book portrayed Philippine cultures and introduced non-Filipino readers to our local delicious foods. Like banana-que, lugaw, biko, suman, manggang hinog (ripe mango) and more! Mentioning one of our national costume, Barong Tagalog, and showing unity in our communities. She also showed us how Filipino respect elders by using po at opo. Marie Miranda Cruz did a great job in depicting our culture. I am so glad that I’ve been given a chance to read this book.

"Hunger and sickness made people want to do stupid things."

I absolutely adored Nora for being so optimistic in the midst of life’s cruelty. You will sympathize for her because at such a young age, she experienced that kind of awfulness. On the other hand, I am so jealous because can I also have a friend who will stand as my older brother like Jojo? I love Nora and Jojo’s friendship so much. I’m so grateful Nora has Lola Mercy, too!

The only negative thing I’ll say about this book is there are some bad words that isn’t supposed to be there since their target is younger audience. Also am I the only one who wants to read more about Lola Fely’s side? Most probably.

This book deals with violence and child abuse, however, it was written in a way that children wouldn’t feel uncomfortable reading it.

So all in all, I absolutely love this book with all my heart. This is an important and meaningful novel that truly helped me to be more appreciative with the things I have now. To stop my constant whining on how I am so unlucky because truth to be told, I am lucky. I have a place which I can call home, I am able to go to school, eat three times a day or even more than that and have a proper clothes to wear.

This book is really an eye-opener. A great opportunity to have a talk about poverty, friendships, importance of family, and more. It’s a great way to build a child’s (and even older people) empathy and sympathy to other people.

"It was so hard to be brave when all I wanted to do was cry."
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Don't ever think that since this is a children's book, the story would be light and fluffy. This pretty much is the opposite.

The story of Nora is such an emotional and inspiring one. She lives in a cemetery with her mother. Both are dealing with grief because of the death of her father. Her struggles only begins there as her mother is a gambler, and that means they're losing more money instead of saving any.

For such a young age, Nora already experienced a lot of heartaches. Losing her father in a tragic fire incident was one thing, but having to stop going to school and doing other people's laundry instead to help her mother earn money is one way of not having a proper childhood.

This book made me realize how we take little things for granted. Nora's story is an eye-opener of what really happens in the slums. This will make you grateful and appreciative of your family, friends, home, and all other things that you have.

I recommend this book not only to middle-graders but especially to adults too. A moving, impactful, and inspirational read. Rated this 4.5🌟on Goodreads! 🤓

"It had been scary to live here at first, but Mama told me that the living would do us greater harm than the dead ever could."

"Bahala na. Come what may. Live for the day."

"Hunger and sickness made people want to do stupid things."

"But then again, it might be a good reminder of what not to do for the sake of money, and how to never, ever again lose hope."

🎶Soundtrack: One Life by Boyce Avenue
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