My Heart Underwater by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

My Heart Underwater – Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, Harper Collins, 2020. 9780062972286

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format:  Hardcover

Genre: Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book? Corazon,17, attends a posh Catholic school in Southern California on scholarship; she is an outcast, not melding with any of the other students.  She is in love with her young, white, history teacher, Ms. Holden.  Her parents emigrated from the Philippines but she was born in the U.S.  Her father is a house painter and handyman who can repair most anything.  He works way too much.  One day he falls off the roof of a house and ends up in a coma at the hospital, unable to move, suffering brain damage.  Cory (Corazon), meanwhile, is realizing her dream by having a relationship with Ms. Holden!  Caught in the act by her mother, she is sent off to Quezon City in the Philippines to live with her step-brother and aunties.  Needless to say, this is quite a life-changer.  She has never even been to the Philippines.  As she adapts to her new life, she discovers a lot about her family she never knew, the dysfunctional upbringing of her parents.  She also discovers she need not be so secretive as long as she shares with the right people.

Anything you did not like about the book?  Cory’s parents and the people in the Philippines speak in Tagalog, a preferred Filipino language.  It is used throughout the book with no glossary.  Though the meaning can sometimes be gleaned from the context, I found it disruptive and frustrating.

To whom would you recommend this book? The story presents the differences of what it is like being raised in the Philippines as opposed to being raised in the U.S. with Filipino parents.  Many Latinx readers could well relate to the difficulties that Cory experienced.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it?  YA Fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Editor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  September 18, 2021

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