Cover Image: Forgiving Imelda Marcos

Forgiving Imelda Marcos

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Member Reviews

The Marcoses are back in power. Their narratives has been more effective than the truth. The title of the book is a bit more confusing though but I decided to try it. The writing was beautiful, reminds me of Miguel Syjuco’s writing. This is the story of Lito, his relationship with his father, his relationship with the communists in the mountains and ultimately his relationship with Mrs. Aquino. Lito creates this letters from his deathbed to his estranged son. Would I say the novel is political in nature. Yes it is. Does it address the current political climate in the Philippines? I don’t think so. It’s a good read nonetheless. A slow burn. If you’re into that this will be a good read.

Thank you Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, and Netgalley for the ARC copy.

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Thank you to NetGalley and FSG for allowing me to read this ARC. I absolutely loved this novel. Throughout the novel the main character (and his employer Ms. Aquino) really explore guilt, love, and what it means to forgive. This is a touching and thoughtful story. I learned a great deal about Philippine history. I happened to read this right after seeing "Here Lies Love" on Broadway. I greatly enjoyed and recommend both.

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I was fairly young during the time of the Marcoses so I only know what I learned from others while it was going on and then later from research for my own curiosity. This novel draws from events at the time but prior knowledge of them is not necessary to enjoy it. This, above all else, is about forgiveness, about intentionally letting go of resentment and anger. It is a beautifully written story that weaves Filipino history with one man’s struggle of needing forgiveness from the son he doesn’t know and being able to forgive his father who treated him just as badly. Highly recommended if you enjoy well-crafted prose, messy relationships, and the power of forgiveness.

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I'm so thankful to FSG, Netgalley, and Nathan Go for granting me advanced audio, digital, and physical access to this sweet gem of book that held emotional weight that twisted into my with a sharp knife.

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This was the perfect novel to read after a long list of bad books. I'd describe it as a short, quiet and quick read. Our narrator and main character is writing a series of letters to his estranged son, retelling different events in his life in the hopes of having a connection with said son. Lito, our main character, is dying. He lives in the Philippines, where he used to work as a driver for the Aquino family. His son and his son's mom traveled to the States years ago and decided to stay there for good.

Like I said, this is a quiet read. No big revelations are made, or at least none that are really surprising. It is a story about an ordinary man with an ordinary life. One might even describe it and him as "mediocre." If you enjoy reading novels that are more focused on the characters and the language and writing style than the plot itself, then you'll enjoy this one. You'll also find it very interesting if you like reading fiction based on real events or real people. I got to learn about the Philippines' recent political history and got introduced to a reality that I wasn't aware of before.

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A challenging read probably best appreciated by those familiar with the actual history of the Philippines during the period Lito describes to his son. It's a love letter from father to child, an effort to explain decisions and life. It's tangled and complex, Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I DNF but that's on me not on Go who has written an impressive novel.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending this ARC in exchange for an honest review of the book.

This book made me cry for my father.
This book made me cry for my Lolo, too.

I’ve always said that my favorite books capture political and social dynamics succinctly, and show how they impact people at the interpersonal level, and this book has done that really intentionally and directly.

The narrator was a chauffeur for Corazon Aquino, and is writing from an end-of-life care home to his son in the US. The story captures boyhood, immigration, and health struggles. It captures built community and lost family. I think it is a great introduction to Filipino history and cultural norms, for those who are looking for that.

Clearly, the author Go has come to understand a lot of the things I’ve learned in my life, and has written them—so I’m feeling seen. My father is the one who came to the US as an oldest child, who then cannot speak Tagalog but understands it. At first, it was my Lolo who came to the US to pursue his PhD, and my Lola had to stay in the Philippines alone with my dad for a few years until they were able to all be together. Similarities between the book’s plot and this story tugged at my heart strings, and even without relating directly, I bet they’ll tug at yours.

The book is short which I think is a strength, but there are some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it details including character introductions and explanations of political events or cultural terms. If you’re not familiar with Filipino history, read closely.

I suggest this book highly. I’ll be purchasing it for my own apartment, for my sister, and of course, for my father. Thanks to the author Nathan Go, I look forward to seeing what you do next.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

First, great book cover. The font type one sees on Filipino jeepney route signs put me in the mood to go on a road trip with Lito and Mrs. Aquino.

Second, the writing was lovely, as one would expect of a long letter from a loving father to his son. I highlighted a lot. It was thoughtful, observant, and well-paced.

But! there were certain parts towards the end (mostly around Ka Noel and his relationship with Lito and his parents, plus what happened at Ka Anna’s hut) that I thought needed to be fleshed out a bit more then integrated with the larger tapestry of the story. They seemed to be glossed over too quickly or too ambiguously but were actually important to understanding Lito’s history and his decisions later on. The bit about Lito and his friend Ramon felt like it was just thrown in last minute to tie loose threads. This could just be my shortcoming in reading between the lines, but I think the conclusion of Lito’s story could have been a tad tighter.

And it just feels strange to have a book with a polarizing title like this out in the market with the reality that Martial Law victims haven't received the full justice they deserve. Almost feels like it's a cash grab, taking advantage of the current political situation with You Know Who and his family occupying the highest seat in the land (again, unfortunately).

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This started out quite good, a long, long letter from a father to a son.

That said, the back half of the book felt rushed and almost an attempt to tie up loose ends.

This is an alternative history and while I enjoy those sorts of stories, this one didn't do anything for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review.

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This novel has an interesting set up: a Filipino father undergoing dialysis writes a long rambling letter to his son, a journalist in the US, promising to unveil some me important information that promises to make the son’s career. But, the set up and format, as clever as they are, ultimately, hinders the telling here.

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DNF Read 32%

Lito Macaraeg writes a letter to his estranged son living in the US, promising a scoop. Lito hopes that the scoop might be useful for his son's journalism career should he decide to write about it.

Requested this because it's not often I see a book highlighting Philippine history, and I also wanted to expand my reading genre. The narration threw me off a little; it's a letter but without the formal letter formatting. As the main character writes to his son, he kind of goes into tangents is his story telling. I did appreciate the details though, at least of what I have read.

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As Lito undergoes endless rounds of dialysis in hospital in the Philippines, he wants to forge some measure of peace with his estranged son living in the United States. Knowing that the son is a journalist, Lito promises a scoop—an account of a meeting between politicians Corazon Aquino and Imelda Marcos. Hollowed out by cancer, Aquino insists Lito drive her to meet Marcos. An act of closure is on the books. While narrating the journey, Lito reminisces about his own damaged upbringing and regrets. Filled with weighty questions about forgiveness, this is also a moving portrait of the father-son bond.

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