My Heart Underwater

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Oct. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062972286.
Gr 9 Up–Every week, Corazon’s dad video chats with Jun, Corazon’s half-brother living in the Philippines, who she has never met. After an accident leaves her father comatose and Corazon is caught kissing her female teacher, her mother sends her to live with Jun. Corazon knows the language, but secrets unfold when she arrives. Embedded in a new country, she meets her extended family while getting updates about her father’s condition and rewrites letters to Ms. Holden that she cannot seem to send. She needs closure. The tenuous relationship between mother and daughter breaks apart and gradually rebuilds over the course of the novel, similar to Erika L. Sanchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. It is messy and sad but hopeful. This is a hearfelt #OwnVoices story about a Filipino character who is gay. The emotional connection to a homeland, language, and family is demonstrated by the use of Tagalog in dialogue, and lush imagery of bustling cities and mountainous terrain. The book also incorporates political history effortlessly as Jun teaches Corazon about their country as they bond.
VERDICT Built on character and relationships, Fantauzzo’s young adult debut is not to be missed.

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