"Certain things are better kept than said. . . .
But certain things you have to find out now. . . ."
On the tumultuous streets of Manila, where the earth is as brown as a tamarind leaf and the pungent smells of vinegar and mashed peppers fill the air, where seasons shift between scorching sun and torrential rain, eleven-year-old Gringo strives to make sense of his family and a world that is growing increasingly harsher before his young eyes.
There is Gringo's older brother, Pipo, wise beyond his years, a flamboyant, defiant youth and the three-time winner of the sequined Miss Unibers contest; Daddy Groovie, whiling away his days with other hang-about men, out of work and wilting like a guava, clinging to the hope of someday joining his sister in Nuyork; Gringo's mother, Estrella, moving through their ramshackle home, holding her emotions tight as a fist, which she often clenches in anger after curfew covers the neighborhood in a burst of dark; and Ninang Rola, wise godmother of words, who confides in Gringo a shocking secret from the past--and sets the stage for the profound events to come, in which no one will remain untouched by the jagged pieces of a shattered dream.
As Gringo learns; shame is passed down through generations, but so is the life-changing power of blood ties and enduring love.
In this lush, richly poetic novel of grinding hardship and resilient triumph, of selfless sacrifice and searing revelation, Bino A. Realuyo brings the teeming world of 1970s Manila brilliantly to life. While mapping a young boy's awakening to adulthood in dazzling often unexpected ways, The Umbrella Country subtly works sweet magic.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Umbrella Country|
|Release Date: 02-23-2011|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Umbrella Country|
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The Umbrella Country
A bird died at the first sign of flooding.
From our second-story window, I could connect all forms of destruction with a seasonal song while I watched our neighbors fill up Tupperware, buckets, and drums with rain to be carried inside, but still, we quietly resisted the rain. The higher the flood rose, the more lives it took, sometimes animalsrats, dogs, frogsfloated in the flood and sometimes people and homes, which I had not seen myself but heard so much about. It was only this time of the year when I felt that there was more than enough of anything for everybody. As long as I could remember, water has always been scarce; it often got cut off or dripped out of the faucets. Not that I looked forward to floods because most of that type of water we couldn't use anyway, but the sight of water gushing out of nowhere always reminded me that somebody up there understood what was lacking down here.
A quick slam of wind pushed me away from the window, closer to Pipo who was on the floor beside his Miss Unibers box.
"What are you going to wear this time?" I asked, when I saw him cutting little crescent-moon-shaped pictures out of magazines. No answer. I could only hear the gush of humming rain outside and murmurs of little children as they playfully chanted over the death of the little Maya bird, slowly being whirled into the sewer.
Meanwhile, Pipo studied a black-and-white picture he had taken from Mommy a while back. Although he never asked me to watch the door or listen to approaching voices and footsteps, I would always stand guard whenever he did this, so nobody could suddenly walk up the stairs and catch him...