Where to start for this one? I admit that it took me a while to read this book. Now that busy season is almost slightly maybe but only for the meantime over, I was finally able to finish this book. I only wish that I’d begun this book not-during-busy season, but we can’t all win, can we?

So… just in case I’d have free time or not be too pooped to read, I brought this book everywhere to the point that I almost ripped the dust jacket as I tried to stuff the book into my backpack. (I’m sorry, book.)


I love this book because it’s about family, and it’s pretty much an origin story. (Where did I come from? How did I get here?) As I read, intermittently, I remembered my own grandmother telling me tales of her youthpiece by piece and at different points of my childhood. In the same way I’ve always loved hearing about old family stories, e.g. my mom living in a boarding house; my grandmother hiding in the jungle during the war; my mom and my aunt preparing a chicken for dinner, I absolutely enjoyed reading about the most enigmatic grandfather ever.

Some themes in Moonglow that are very relevant today: PTSD and mental illness; family ties and unconditional love; pursuit of one’s passionya know, things like that. It’s a great bookI feared I would spoil it if I raved too much, so I just vaguely listed things out to get it out of the system.

PS I met Michael Chabon. I decided to stop by my fave bookstore, Books on the Park (see here for reference) one beautiful spring evening, and I noticed that there were more people than usual at the bookstore. I turned out that Michael Chabon was going to give a reading, so I stayed since I was already there anyway. I went home a happy camper; Michael Chabon signed my book, yay.

Even with its battle scars (lipstick stain included), what a beloved book this is.

All My Lonely Islands

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.


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]!