Whenever I hear a Filipino name internationally recognized in sports, arts, films, or any kind of field, my heart can’t help but take pride in being a Pinoy. But reading a character that makes me feel visible? It is a new level of joy for me!
For the second part of my two-part blog tour post, I will tell you why you need to read My Fate According to the Butterfly. I also had the pleasure to ask Gail D. Villanueva in an interview that I recently shared here on the blog. So, if you want to check it out, you can read it here.
My Fate According to the Butterfly
by Gail D. Villanueva
Published by: Scholastic Press
Publication date: July 30, 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Wordery
Light and deep, smart and funny, crushing and hopeful all at the same time, My Fate According to the Butterfly will open your eyes to both the world’s potential for magic, and to its harsh realities.
When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her—on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.
If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears—of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom—and figure out the cause of their rift.
So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Ate Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Ate Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever anticipated.
Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!
Trigger and Content Warnings
My Fate According to the Butterfly deals with drug addiction or substance abuse, and police brutality.
My rating: What will you do when death is knocking at your door, knowing you don’t have much time to live?
In this story, Gail shows how a small creature like a butterfly can make a person reflect on the things that are far more consequential, that sometimes, the simplest things in life like being with your family is a lot important than anything in the world. Like Sab, she realized that she has to value time and make every possible last moment of her life count. She put an effort to know the real reason why her dad and Ate Nadine had a falling out. But by doing so, Sab finds herself diving deeper into dangerous ground while facing head-on some of the real and controversial issues the Philippines is currently experiencing right now.As I have mentioned in the interview I did with Gail, two of the things that were emphasized in the story is Duterte’s war on drugs and recovery from substance addiction. The reality that some innocent like Kuya Jepoy has to deal with false accusations and unlawful arrests is just equally heartbreaking and alarming.
On the other hand, Christopher’s character allows us to see that people suffering from (any kind of) addiction are the ones we least expect. Most of the time, it brings tragedy that can cause a family to fall apart. He used to be a fun dad until he didn’t. He missed birthday parties or when he’s with his family, his mind was elsewhere. But with the help and inspiration from Sab and Ate Nadine, he’s trying to get better.
It’s like you’re getting sucked in. You’re falling deeper and deeper, but you have no idea where the bottom is—if there’s even a bottom. All you have are fear and uncertainty, but you let yourself fall anyway. Like a black hole. There’s no other way out but down.
See? Family plays a major role in helping someone towards recovery. Giving them a second chance and believing them without a doubt that they can change is also a way to show our support.The author also captured an excellent description of how Filipinos became a product of a colonized past. Issues like colonial mentality, white privilege, and colorism were perfectly fleshed out through Sab’s standpoint. How being white deserves only the best or having brown skin or being a morena is unattractive, so consuming a lot of whitening products, from bleaching soap to whitening lotion, is okay to achieve the standard of beauty that everyone tries to emulate.
You can either recognize and understand your privilege so you can do better, or you don’t and let things stay the same.
On a positive note, Gail didn’t miss introducing Filipino food to her readers. We are known for our food and cookery where we take pride how a simple chicken sopas can warm your heart or eating kare-kare feels heaven and indeed very satisfying.
Don’t get me started with my favorite pet character in the story, Lawin. He was such a fun addition that gave a child-like vibe and humor who will get anyone’s attention. (By the way, he’s a duck and I know for a fact that Gail’s inspiration for Lawin was her pet, Quakie, who according to her is a real diva!)At the beginning of the story, Sab believes that she will going to die. From the stories her Dad told her, she knows that a black butterfly is an omen of death. It is one of the superstitions or “pamahiin” we Filipinos believe. Either there’s a truth in it or not, it has always been and forever be a part of our culture. What’s important is we don’t need to rely on any kind of superstitious beliefs because our life is our own.My Fate According to the Butterfly is a story from the perspective of a young girl who learned the brutal realities in life and along the way, explores more about family, friendship, change, and forgiveness. This book will surely leave footprints in your hearts!
I received an eARC of My Fate According to the Butterfly as a part of my participation in this blog tour and this in no way influences my rating nor my opinion on this book.
THE GREEN BLOB OF PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
“You can’t die. You’re only ten,” Pepper says for what seems like the eight time. She puts her right hand on her chest and hangs her head like she’s in mourning. “We’re only ten. I’m too young to be a widowed best friend.”
“I’m serious.” I slam my fist on the kitchen counter, flattening a piece of yellow-orange polymer clay. Pepper’s my first and only best friend. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I should reconsider it.
To her credit, Pepper had her dad bring her over the very next day after I saw the Butterfly. She has her faults, but I can always count on her for moral support. It didn’t even matter that she lives in Antipolo, thirty minutes away from Quezon City, where I live. She still answered my call.
“So am I.” Pepper raises her hands in mock surrender. They’re covered with green clay slivers. Gross. “Stop ruining my mojo. I need it to finish my masterpiece.”
I hide my snort with a cough. Pepper and I are in the kitchen, making clay sculptures. Well, at least I am. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but the mess in front of her doesn’t resemble what people normally call “a masterpiece.” It’s more like a leafy version of the poop emoji.
“So.” Pepper pokes the green glob’s “head” with her pinky. “How long do you think you’ll have?”
Dad said his friend had three days after the Butterfly landed on her garden spade. His cousin lasted an entire week following the insect’s appearance on the tip of her fountain pen. Yet, Dad’s own father didn’t even make it through the first twenty-four hours. He died almost as soon as Dad saw the Butterfly sit on the spacebar of my grandpa’s typewriter.
“Seven days, max. Dad never told me anyone who’s lived more than that.” I say, wiping sweat off my brow. The oven’s already warm, but Pepper and I aren’t allowed to use it on our own. Tito Ed will set our clay art into the oven to bake when he finishes his phone call. It should have been Ate Nadine. As usual, she’s off doing some writerly thing.
Pepper eyes her sculpture and decides that she’s done. She dumps her “artwork” onto the parchment-lined baking tray set on the counter, next to a sculpture I made earlier. Mine is a grown-up version of a Pekin duck. White, with an orange beak and legs. It’s far from being great, like Dad’s creations. Still, it is better than Pepper’s
I don’t want to offend my friend, but curiosity gets the better of me. “What’s that supposed to be, anyway?”
“It’s abstract art,” she says, sticking a piece of rolled black clay on top of her glob. It now looks like a green poop emoji with a decayed unicorn horn. “It’s a mess, but you need to look closer. It’s a beautiful representation of my past, present, and future.”
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.
Want to know who joined the blog tour? Don’t forget to visit these amazing book bloggers to learn more about My Fate According to the Butterfly. Also, don’t forget to join the #ButterflyTour Twitter Chat.
— Shut up, Shealea
— Your Tita Kate
— The Little Miss Bookworm
— Kaitlyn Gosiaco
— Book Freak Revelations
— Whimsy Wanders
— Camillea Reads
— Tale Out Loud (That’s me!)
— celuna maria
— Book Reviews by the Bloggisters
— Unputdownable Books
— Read at Night
— Oro Plata Myta
— The Bibliophile District
— Accio! Blog
— Utopia State of Mind
— Bookish Wisps
— R E A (D) I V I N E
— The Last Reader
— Chrikaru Reads
— The Ultimate Fangirl
— Tale Out Loud (That’s me again!)
— Flipping Through the Pages
— The Night Faerie
— Fil-Am Learners
— The Bibliophile Confessions
— #ButterflyTour Twitter chat hosted by @shutupshealea
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