America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

America Is Not the Heart

Three generations of women from one immigrant family trying to reconcile the home they left behind with the life they're building in America.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 her past. And his younger wife, ...

Details America Is Not the Heart

TitleAmerica Is Not the Heart
Release DateApr 3rd, 2018
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Reviews America Is Not the Heart

  • Emily May
    Baggage means no matter how far you go, no matter how many times you immigrate, there are countries in you you’ll never leave. There's only one slightly disappointing thing about this book-- that the prologue introduces us to Paz and her compelling story, which completely drew me in, but then she fades into the background as a secondary character for the rest of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hero’s tale, but I never quite got over l...
  • Valerie Best
    Okay, bear with me—which, by the way, would have been an appropriate subtitle for this book.So, I liked this book. Sometimes an awful lot. There were moments in this book that took my breath away. It’s writing is great, and got me excited about a kind of writing that I haven’t been very excited about for a while. The story deals with the Filipino experience, and feels truly immersive. One of the book's most interesting aspects is its libera...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    I’m so conflicted about this book! After reading Mia Alver’s IN THE COUNTRY a few years ago I’ve been wanting to read more fiction about the Filipino diaspora so was thrilled to hear about AMERICA IS NOT THE HEART. The prologue pulled me in immediately and I ate it up. But I overinvested in Paz who then almost disappeared from the narrative once Hero, our true protagonist, arrived. Hero is an amazing character and the reveals about her life...
  • Candace
    Set in the unglamorous cities of San Francisco's East Bay, "America Is Not The Heart" follows Filipino immigrants as they dig in and take their place in their new country. It's the 1980s, and Paz uses her training as a nurse to leverage an escape from the poor rural Philippines. Her surgeon husband comes from a rich, corrupt family, but when he joins her in Milpitas, he becomes a security guard. They offer sanctuary to his niece, Hero, who has be...
  • Erin Glover
    Fascinating for its depiction of Filipino immigrants’ lives in northern California, a refreshing immigrant perspective, sadly, the story falls gracelessly flat. Initially sucked in by Paz’s depiction of life in the Philippines as a poor young girl ignored by her family during martial law, Paz’s life gets even more interesting when she immigrates to northern California. She marries into a well-known upper crust Filipino family offering her h...
  • Andy Lillich
    I want to admit, right up-front, that it took me awhile to really connect with this story. After all, what did I know about the Philipines? Absolutely nothing. Which meant that much of what I read in the beautifully told prologue and even the first several sections of Hero's story, felt like it went right by me. I had no knowledge of the places, customs - and especially the many passages in Filipino dialects (of which there many) and had trouble ...
  • Theresa
    The thing about growing up Filipino in America, and especially growing up Filipino in a heavily white area, and especially growing up Filipino in a family that doesn’t fully see you as Filipino and allow you access to your culture or a right to your heritage or the freedom to define yourself, is that certain things — what should be shared cultural experiences, memories, references — sometimes feel like they’re happening in a vacuum. You d...
  • Adam
    This book! What a triumph. It was a bit too long but I never wanted it to end. The prologue, Ga-li-la, is exceptionally makes you want to stay with Paz, but we spend most of the novel with Hero, who is a little inscrutable....Roni, however, is the most lively, realistic child in fiction I've read in a while. Rosalyn is sparkling and endearing...other characters, like Jaime, or Pol, or Adela, leap off the page. This is a huge, big-he...
  • Thor Balanon
    "You've been foreign all your life. When you finally leave, all you're hoping for is a more bearable kind of foreignness." 🔹America is Not the Heart is our collective longing: a mixtape of our youth, a recipe of our cravings, a scar, a reminder. An ache. (Thanks, Bennard @bcfajardo ) With a Prologue that reads like a precise, stylish short story—which I have personally read three times—the novel unfolds deliberately. Domestic details, road...
  • Rhi
    Shocking, heartbreaking, deeply affecting, confronting, balls-out, raw, passionate, sensual.Those are just some of the words I noted down whilst reading this book. An amazing debut from Elaine Castillo who for me epitomises a good writer: someone who is able to convey a range of emotions and feelings that many people would find difficult to articulate."There was just a fist of emotion in her chest, but it was too tightly closed to tell just what ...
  • Kevin Hu
    AINTH takes you down a narrative course that is subversive at every corner. In Geronimo's young life, she has already seen life in the Philippines from the countryside of Pangasinan, from the mountains of Baguio where she was slowly radicalized and inducted in the New People's Army during her years in college before dropping out, as a political recalcitrant serving as a medic, as a political prisoner for 2 years narrowly escaping death after a se...
  • Trish
    Personally, this book has qualities that make this an intimidating read:- It’s been described as an “epic family saga” (too many characters)- It’s 400+ pages (too many words)- There are shifts in time periods and POVs (too confusing)None of this mattered to me when I found this title floating around on bookstagram. It didn’t take long to become absorbed into the lives of these fully-realized characters in Castillo’s impressive debut n...
  • Stephanie
    In her acknowledgements at the end of "America is Not the Heart," 33-year-old author Elaine Castillo writes, "in terms of utang na loop , this one's last but definitely not least: To the Bay and in particular the 408."To the very end, then, this talented, first-generational Filipino American persists in her peculiar coding of the immigrant diaspora in America. The untranslated utang na loop , Tagalog for "debt of gratitude," is in keeping with th...
  • Elise
    There's a lot one can say about what makes this novel powerful. For example: the way the complex political history of the Philippines unfolds alongside a more contemporary setting; or how the characters, spanning three generations, relate with one another in surprising and often heartbreaking ways. For me, as a Filipina-American reader, what was most powerful was how Elaine Castillo wove throughout the novel numerous details about Filipino famili...
  • Jimbo Pantas
    This book seemed too difficult to get into at first, but a few chapters in and I was ravenous for more Filipino drama. I'm glad I had no knowledge of its synopsis or whatsoever prior to reading, except that it was written by a Filipino. I read "book" and "Filipino" together in an online article headline and I dived right in, no further questions asked. America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo is my second Filipino read this year.While reading ...
  • Jade
    About 20 pages in I realized that I know barely anything about the Philippines apart from some random dishes, and some political crises over the years!! I worked for a translation company for years and assumed that Tagalog was the main language and never looked further than that. I feel pretty ashamed about it to be honest - but I’ve really enjoyed reading America is Not the Heart and researching so much about the Philippines at the same time. ...
  • Jacqueline
    3.5 stars. For some reason, lately some of the books I've been reading, especially the long ones, haven't been extremely enjoyable, and yet I feel a sense of sadness when it's over. Though I felt like this book was way too long when I was reading it, I felt a little empty and sad when I finished the last page and had to say goodbye to Hero, Rosalyn, Roni.. :'(. I definitely did not dislike this book at all, but I wouldn't say I "clicked" with it-...
  • Nick Klagge
    No, this book is not by my wife, just by her shadow twin!A really awesome debut novel. I liked almost everything about it. The story is about Hero (short for Geronima), a Filipino woman who comes to Milpitas, CA, as an undocumented immigrant in the late '80s/early '90s. The title is a reference to "America is in the Heart," a memoir written by the Filipino immigrant Carlos Bulosan in 1946 (see my Goodreads review of same). For the most part, the ...
  • Barbara VanDenburgh
    "So you're a girl and you're poor, the worst combination, but at least you're light-skinned - that'll save you." Now that's just a great first line."America Is Not the Heart" is a book outside my comfort zone in many ways. It's a multi-generational immigrant family saga that begins in the politically fraught Philippines and ends in Milpitas, Calif. in the early 90s, where Hero de Vera arrives broken seemingly beyond repair after years of confinem...
  • Jaymee
    Beautiful language, and commendable because despite the use of different Filipino dialects, I've seen a lot of foreigners reading and enjoying this. It's a good way of sharing the history and culture, but here's where the problem lies, at least for me. The historical narrative is a bit shallow, and the story between Hero and Rosalyn just dragged on; the tension was lost. In the end, I wasn't sure what this story was about. I'm not imposing that t...
  • Gwynne
    I've read hundreds of books, but this is the first time I've ever read a book with characters that more or less represented who I am -- not just the basic Filipino, but a Pangasinense.
  • Laura
    I loved this book so much and was completely immersed in the story each time I picked it up. Set during the 80’s and 90’s this novel follows the lives of Paz, Hero and Roni. There is a whole host of supporting characters: Pol, Rosalyn, Adela and Jamie to name a few, who really help to bring the story to life, but the three female leads are the glue that hold it all together. Paz, whose determination to never be poor again and to always be the...
  • Ellen
    Four to even 4.5 stars overall, in its own way. This was a challenging book for me, with many words and phrases left untranslated, and not much plot driving the story forward. But, despite all that I really liked the author’s style, the characters, and the great dealof knowledge I gained about Filipino culture. The queer love story was a surprise, and a welcome one. Although there were parts where my attention wandered, the last 10% of the book...
  • Rory Dela
    "So you're a girl and you're poor, but at least you're light skinned - that'll save you." - An opening sentence that might as well have described my mom. A very well written book that smacks of familiarity for those of us who grew up under Marcos' Martial Law and managed to immigrate to the US in the late 80s. The book has richly painted characters and I had to keep turning the page to see how they fared. I'm glad I read the book and I can't wait...
  • Anna
    I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.A poignant story about sacrificing for you family and losing yourself and them in the process. Specifically focuses on 3 women but the cast encompasses the entire extended families. In many ways, an immigrant/ mother-daughter story.Paz works numerous nursing jobs to provide for her family and extended family. Having grown up poor, she never wants to live through that again and sh...
  • Mainlinebooker
    For fans of third world literature, you might want to dive into this novel for there seems to be a void of Filipino novels. It opened up a world that I was not familiar with as it broached the immigrant experience, the horrors of insurgencies and conflict, familial ties, and also lesbian relationships. This is a multigenerational saga filled with many characters but chiefly Paz, the nurse who has settled in the Bay area with her husband, Pol,who ...
  • Linda Robinson
    Strongest female writing voice I've read in a very long time. Powerful, sonic boom writing. I was lucky to read this in one day - underslept but engaged throughout, so I had no chance to lose track of an excellent storytelling session. It's not an easy read. Castillo doesn't use quotation marks when people are talking. The POV is odd - "so you are the eldest daughter and eldest child. You live in..." There are 4 languages, phrases of each used th...
  • Jaclyn
    Elaine Castillo is a fresh and welcome new voice to Filipino immigrant fiction. I loved the Filipino touches throughout the story -- the sprinkling of Tagalog and Ilocano, the obsession with pancit and Pinoy-style BBQ, and all the talk about faith healing and the power of brujas to heal things like eczema. There are some great passages about Filipino folklore -- the white lady of Balete drive, the consequences of a supernatural being (I can't rem...
  • Terry
    Here’s a review that will tell you something about the book:’s what a novel in which the central character is named Hero made me think about. What are we to make of Hero, herself, with a name like that, if anything more than what we take from the story itself on the surface and in depth. Sure, it’s a nickname, but not one too far from its source: Geronima.Literature is full of heroes, but not He...
  • Andrea Lechner-Becker
    Slightly different version posted here: This story is about Hero, a woman in her early thirties, who, given the genre will better understand herself throughout the novel. Ms. Castillo’s writing is so crushingly beautiful and annoyingly effortless feeling (that comes from a writer - I was literally sitting there like, FUCK. I wish these words sprang from me) that it’s a delight to read. There’s this w...