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Publisher's Summary

An urgent and immersive debut novel from an astonishing new voice following three generations of Filipina women in the family as they flee the Philippines and make their way in suburban California.

How many lives can one person lead in a single lifetime? When Hero De Vera arrives in America, disowned by her parents in the Philippines, she's already on her third. Her uncle, Pol, who has offered her a fresh start and a place to stay in the Bay Area, knows not to ask about the first and second. And his younger wife, Paz, has learned enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. Only their daughter Roni asks Hero why her hands seem to constantly ache.

Illuminating the violent political history of the Philippines in the 1980s and 1990s and the insular immigrant communities that spring up in the suburban United States with an uncanny ear for the unspoken intimacies and pain that get buried by the duties of everyday life and family ritual, Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable power of the past. In a voice as immediate and startling as those of Junot Diaz and NoViolet Bulawayo, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful telenovela of a first book. With exuberance, muscularity, and tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave home to grasp at another, sometimes turning back.

©2018 Elaine Castillo (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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New Perspectives

To me, this is a new perspective of the "American Dream". Uncensored and real. It had enough detail where you felt as if you were one of the characters, while withholding information until the right moments. I felt more drawn to this story because my father is an immigrant from the Philippines and enjoy multiple perspectives.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Unexpected Love Story

Excellent story, not predictable! Outstanding narration, differentiated characters. Thoroughly enjoyed, I've listened twice. Thank you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great Listen!

This was overall a great listen, I really enjoyed all the perspectives and the era the story is set. That being said, I wish I had physically read the book instead of listening to it. There's a lot of Tagalog and Ilicano that wasn't translated so there were several parts where I got the general vibe of the situation but didn't know exactly what was happening.

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Stories of Me

To read your culture in a novel is precious. As a first-gen American born Filipino-American, visibility is something I crave for daily. I appreciate the beautiful layers of Elaine Castillo’s novel more than words can say. Maraming salamat, Elaine.

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  • J
  • 07-01-18

Brilliant narrative

It's a lovely book. Precise in a way that makes it relevant beyond the story told. I could so easily see my own family members reflected in this brilliant narrative. I'm thoroughly impressed.