From The Repository is a collection of my old book reviews lifted from my old website. Check out the rest here.
My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva
Publication Date: July 30, 2019 by Scholastic
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 Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, 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!
My Fate According to the Butterfly is probably the first Middle Grade novel I’ve read in a very long time. I don’t even remember the last MG novel I’ve read. While I usually shy away from the category, I just knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So I have to read and boost this book.
The story follows Sab, a Filipino kid who wants to be an artist like her Father. In fact, Sab looks up to her father a lot and gets her being superstitious from him. So when a black butterfly lands on her a few days before her birthday, she believed she was going to die.
I really love the portrayal of Sab’s curiosity and innocence in the book. It was quite refreshing to see her take on things that seem mundane and trivial for me but have totally captured her attention. The family dynamics were really interesting for me as well. See, Sab’s parents are separated, her mom and dad both have boyfriends and it was heartwarming for her to refer to them as her three dads.
I didn’t relate to Ate Nadine that much though, which was a bit sad and surprising because we’re both the eldest sibling. I just felt like she was too dismissive of Sab sometimes, which I found myself thinking “Was I that dismissive of my sisters?” Then again we see their relationship grow as we go along.
The book gently touched the reality of the drug war, while also exploring the reality of a number of issues such as socioeconomic inequalities, colonial mentality, and white privilege. I love the fact that the author was able to navigate through these themes and contextualize them in the eyes of a Filipino kid without soft-pedaling their importance and meaning.
💖 Do you believe in superstitions?
📚 Have you read other books that feature superstitions?
This review was first published on The Bibliophile Confessions on July 26, 2019, as part of a Blog Tour.