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Publisher's Summary

One of NPR's best books of 2018.

One of The Boston Globe's best books of 2018.

One of The New York Post's most unforgettable books of 2018.

"A saga rich with origin myths, national and personal.... Castillo is part of a younger generation of American writers instilling literature with a layered sense of identity." (Vogue)

How many lives fit in a lifetime? 

When Hero De Vera arrives in America - haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents - she's already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn't ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter - the first American-born daughter in the family - can't resist asking Hero about her damaged hands. 

An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakable grip of history. 

With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another. 

©2018 Elaine Castillo (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Hungrily ambitious in sweep and documentary in detail, and reads like a seismograph of the aftershocks from trading one life for another.... Like Bulosan, [Castillo] channels a righteous anger, revisiting America’s historical crimes.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“An impossible-to-put-down, multi-generational family epic.” (Southern Living)

“A lively, often hilarious family epic stretching from the villages of the Philippines to Northern California.... A fierce, deeply affecting story of immigrant life in America.” (Marie Claire)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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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.