by Marie Miranda Cruz
Published by: Starscape Books
Publication date: October 2, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade
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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.
Trigger and Content Warnings
Everlasting Nora deals with violence, child abuse, classism, extreme poverty/hunger, kidnapping, descriptions of blood and other serious injuries.
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 (click here). Being able to join this 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 swell 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!
First page of Everlasting Nora got me like..“I can see how it’s happening because it TRULY happens.” #EverlastingNoraPH
— Karlita (@cherrykarl) November 27, 2018
Known Filipino values were deeply emphasized 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.
❥ Hard work — 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 great emphasis and will strike 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 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 cooks 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 offers 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 introduced 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 gives 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 influences my rating nor my opinion on this book.
About The Author:
Marie Miranda Cruz is a writer of middle-grade and young adult novels, and a clinical laboratory specialist. She is a contributing author for two anthologies, Fractured and Fables, Image Comics USA, and Wolf-Girls Anthology, His Dragones, Manchester England.
She was born in the Philippines. She spent most of her formative years moving between her hometown, Cavite City, and several cities in the United States while her father served in the United States Navy. When her dad retired, she moved back to the Philippines where she completed both high school and college. The first holiday she experienced in the Philippines was All Saints Day. It was this experience that inspired her to write her first novel, Everlasting Nora.
Marie now lives in Los Angeles with her family and a tank of fighting fish. When she isn’t writing books for kids, she may be analyzing chromosomes in a genetics lab, reading a good book, or knitting ponchos and fingerless gloves.
She is represented by Paula Munier, Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC.
Click to know who joined the blog tour. Don’t forget to visit these amazing book bloggers to learn more about Everlasting Nora. Also, join the #EverlastingNoraPH Twitter Chat open to everyone, readers and bloggers alike!
Kate — The Backwards Bookshelf (Tour launch)
Divine — Vinedicated (Review, fanart, & quote graphics)
Erica — Living a Hundred Lives (Review and feature post)
Rose — Rose Books Blog (Review)
Justine — Bookish Wisps (Review)
JM — The Book Freak Revelations (Review & moodboard / aesthetics)
Karlita — Tale Out Loud (That’s me!)
Zia — Accio Blog (Review and feature post)
Cathrina — Chasing Words and Pages (Review & moodboard /aesthetics)
Joel — Descendant of Poseidon (Review, book photoshoot & feature post)
Hafsa — Petal Hugs (Review, moodboard / aesthetics, playlists & quote graphics)
Jennifer — Jen D Bibliophile (Review)
Nessa — Utopian Pages (Review, fanart, & quote graphics)
Bianca — The Ultimate Fangirl (Review, moodboard / aesthetics, quote graphics & downloadable bookmarks)
Hana — The Wraith Reads (Review, playlists & quote graphics)
Aki — Aki Through Books (Review & moodboard / aesthetics)
Cara — Little Miss Bookworm (Review & quote graphics)
Samantha — All My Fictional Children (Review)
Kester — LiLBooKlovers (Review & feature post)
Gel — Whimsy Wanders (Review)
Mica — The Girl on Track (Review)
Shealea — That Bookshelf Bitch (Review)
Kate — The Backwards Bookshelf (Review & author interview)
— #EverlastingNoraPH Twitter chat hosted by @bckwrdsbookshlf