Book Review: All My Lonely Islands by VJ Campilan
TITLE: All My Lonely Islands
AUTHOR: VJ Campilan
RATING: ☆☆☆☆☆ (5/5)
This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is the Grand Prize Winner for the 2015 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. It was written by VJ Campilan, a Filipino Author and this is her first book which she wrote for her thesis for her MFA Creative Writing degree. It was published 2017 by Anvil Publishing
“All those lonely islands. They will keep afloat without me.”
Finally, I was able to finish this book and it took me a long time to end this. I don’t know why but I was afraid to end it. Maybe because I was not ready to know what will happen. I just want to savor the memories of this book. It has this vibe, that is so melancholic. The story was just beautiful, when you are being haunted by your past and you just want to make amends with whatever demons you have left behind. Coming into terms with yourself. I think that this book is just as good as it gets. It will keep you reading for more. This story is heartbreaking at times, for me most of the time but also it will keep your imaginations alive.
The book also takes you to places you’ve never been. Bangladesh, Batanes, Manila. It definitely describes the place beautifully and makes you want to go there and wander around. It also features different cultures since the story happens in different places. A good depiction of different cultures, breaking language barriers, traditions, etc.
The characters are just unique in each own. Crisanta’s narration of the story was just clear and uncomplicated, the emotions she felt was really real for me, I can definitely feel all of the feels. Being Crisanta has reminded me of high school, tough times and all. But their experiences hones and haunts them. I bet it is hard going through life like that. Ferdinand on the other hand, his story gets to me, when they were young he is this boy who bullies other kids and he is so troubled that you won’t even tell that he is also messed up inside. I now totally understand why he is acting the way he is. It saddens me really. The time he spills out his family’s history to Crisanta on how he feels all the time, I felt the heaviness. I started to like him eventually after that. I feel that his actions from the start was really not the real Ferdinand and I am so glad to know why. When he was in the church talking to the Reverend, it makes me wanna cry and I don’t know why maybe because somewhere deep inside I know that Ferdinand is a good person and he is just troubled and he needs help. Something in him is also vulnerable and it makes me want to tell everyone to give him a tight big hug right at that very moment. Stevan’s story is heartbreaking but I wish there is more for him, more time so that we can see how it will turn out for him. Each of them is flawed in a different way, And I believe that in the end thay have redeemed theirselves and makes all the efforts to move on and live their life. Oh and that Pobrito story? It was so damn cruel and it really breaks my heart. The letter of Stevan’s mom to Crisanta was just pure love, as I was reading it I felt the sincerity and just love from her.
And the ending is just so perfect, doesn’t need anything. It is just the way it’s supposed to happen. The last few pages keeps me sniffing and crying. Just be ready when you read this story it will definitely make you really feel. This book is beautifully crafted and maybe one of the best reads so far. It is heartbreakingly amazing. I would really recommend this book, though it’s somewhat heavy and sad but really not all the time, it is that good. I cried with the characters too, I feel with them, I traveled with them and experience everything with them. It is good in a way that eventhough these things happened to them they still move forward, make themselves a better version of eaach other. Make amends with the past and hopefully forgive their past self. No wonder this book won a prestigious award given that this is just the first book from the author. A 5 star for me, it definitely lived up to it’s expectation.