All My Lonely Islands by VJ Campilan

Fun fact: Whenever I travel, I: (1) send myself a postcard from my current location; and (2) purchase a touristy magnet to commemorate my trip. I’ve recently added a new component to my travel experience: (3) scour bookstores for local books.

The recent addition has been quite the challenge.

Particularly, I had a difficult time finding an interesting locally published book in the Philippines because the local publication and/or Filipiniana sections of the major bookstores were very underwhelming. The local section housed textbooks, review books, comicbooks, horror story compilations, etc etc, etc, so one would really have to stare into the shelves to find a gem. After numerous stares and much deliberation, I left the bookstore with VJ Campilan’s All My Lonely Islands (and then some) in hand.

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Let me tell you about All My Lonely Islands. 

It’s a story about two people atoning for their pasts. That’s basically it, but the way it’s told is beautiful. The story is an emotional roller-coaster ride, and, as I read the book, I felt for (better words may be: empathized with) all of the characters. It is high school drama at its finest, I will say that. Pretty dramatic, but I loved every moment of it.

Minor downside? If not for the synopsis at the back of the book, I wouldn’t have known what was going on in the “present” for the characters — you know, when there aren’t any flashbacks. Maybe more detail at the beginning would have done the trick, unless I’m just not a very good reader though I like to think (or hope) I am.

Nevertheless, I do recommend people pick up this book if they get a chance! Support local writers, friends, [Romans, countrymen]!