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, Lgbt, Glbt, Queer, Contemporary, Audiobook, Novels, Adult

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...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    This was a great read about several Filipino women - one who supports her family as a nurse, returning to the Philippines at one point before marrying and moving to the United States. The focus eventually turns to Hero, who is a refugee after living as a political prisoner for ten years. She finds home and family in a Filipino community in California and even finds love. The end of the novel, in fact turns into a bit of a romance novel, and possi...
  • T
    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...
  • Meike
    I had such high expectations for Castillo's debut, but alas, this wasn't for me: While the story itself, a tale about an immigrant family from the Philippines, could have been super interesting, the narrative sructure drove me crazy and I almost abandoned the book halfway through. The novel starts with Paz, a young nurse who marries into the powerful de Vera family and leaves the Philippines with her husband to make a life for herself in the U.S....
  • 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. Its 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 liberal u...
  • David
    "You already know that the first thing that makes you foreign to a place is to be born poor in it; you don't need to emigrate to America to feel what you felt when you were ten... You've been foreign all your life. When you finally leave, all you're hoping for is a more bearable kind of foreignness."This truth, and others like it, forms the backbone of what could have been a very powerful debut novel. Sadly, there is so much adiposity loaded onto...
  • 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...
  • Justine (Milkz)
    “As for loving America or not loving America, those aren’t your problems, either. Your word for love is survival. Everything else is a story that isn’t about you.” I can only describe this as a beautiful ode to Filipinos everywhere. This book is outside my genre (fantasy), but it felt like a fantasy while reading because I was in such disbelief over seeing “Filipino” and “tsinelas” and other Filipino dishes besides adobo in a boo...
  • jo
    if you, like me, get frightened when you read a book described as a multigenerational novel, fear not, dear reader. this novel is squarely about our 30 something protagonist, hero, ex guerrilla fighter in the philippines, survivor of two years of torture at the hands of the marcos regime, now living in the california south bay with her uncle and aunt. this book is a love story. there is love between two women one of whom is so hurt she doesn't wa...
  • ns510
    ”The gift of the small world was that it was small. The curse of the small world was that it was small.”📖 A multigenerational family saga // So much to admire about this sprawling, multigenerational story encompassing life in Phillipines around a period of communist uprising in the country and onwards to Filipino American immigrant life in American suburbia. It all comes out via a handful of central characters; two separate Filipino immigr...
  • Janet
    I found this TOB contender to be a bit of a slog. Initially I was trying to look up all the foreign words (in 3 different languages) and going back and forth between the hardcover and the audio but about a third of the way in I abandoned that and just went with the audio. I didn't understand everything but I got the gist of it.The last quarter of the novel was more interesting than the first 3/4 which I can sum up for you, food, food...
  • 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...
  • Lisa
    This is a beautifully written novel with compelling characters. I found myself pausing as I neared the end because I didn't want to finish with these people. I'm ashamed by how little I knew about the Philippines before reading this novel.
  • Imi
    You already know that the first thing that makes you foreign to a place is to be born poor in it; you don't need to emigrate to America to feel what you already felt when you were ten, looking up at the rickety concrete roof above your head [...] You've been foreign all your life. When you finally leave, all you're hoping for is a more bearable kind of foreignness. 3.5 stars rounded up? Stunning beginning and end, but the middle dragged a little ...
  • Eric Anderson
    There have been many excellent novels about the immigrant experience in America. But I feel like the richly detailed and engrossing story of “America Is Not the Heart” by Elaine Castillo shows a really unique point of view I've not read about before. The story primarily revolves around Geronima De Vera who is nicknamed Hero when she arrives in America from the Philippines. She goes to live with her aunt, uncle and feisty young cousin Roni in ...
  • Jan
    Castillo immerses readers in her story of a Filipino family living in Milpitas, California in the 1990s, with reachback to the Philippines. She makes some risky choices, including leaving lots of phrases untranslated, but on the whole, it works, partly because of the confidence and energy of her prose. I love these characters, their relationships and backstories, and enjoyed the time I spent with them.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Michelle
    3.5 starsReview to come.Tournament of Books Play-in Round
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Subashini
    "Castillo spends a lot of time showing how Filipinos, like many Asians, show their love and care for each other through food. The book is rich with descriptions of dishes like pancit, pinakbet, longanisa, and lechon, and multiple references to delicious-sounding barbecued pork and rice served up at Rosalyn’s grandparents’ restaurant.The dialogue is left unemphasised without quotation marks, and words in Tagalog, Ilocano or Pangasinan are not ...
  • Matthew
    Fantastic novel about a family of Filipino Americans living in Milpitas, CA. I didn't want my time with these characters to end. Loved the second person pov spotlight chapters of supporting (but very compelling) characters; loved the use of various Philippine language slang words sprinkled throughout the dialogue. I knew very little about the culture and history of the Philippines before reading this and so I enjoyed learning more about it. Grate...
  • 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...
  • Alison Hardtmann
    Elaine Castillo's debut novel is about a Filipino family in Milpitas, California. Paz is a nurse who emigrates from the Philippines to take a nursing job in California, when Pol, a doctor she had had a relationship with, needs to leave the Philippines, they marry and have a daughter. Paz supports her family, as well as a number of siblings and cousins, sending money back to the Philippines and helping those in the US as well. She works two jobs, ...
  • Chaitra
    I almost didn’t finish this book, but no one else at my library wanted it. I was able to keep it forever. Then I felt bullied into reading the thing because I’d kept it forever. It’s slow. It has very weird sentence structure - no quotes, which I can deal with, and periods where they’re not required, which drove me borderline crazy.What I think is really bad about the book is that it starts with Paz. Paz is a Pangasinan, a second daughter...
  • 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 ...