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Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
Young adult

Patron Saints of Nothing

by Randy Ribay

Quick take

How far would you go to learn the truth about your family?

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A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin's murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth—and the part he played in it.

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Why I love it

I was drawn to this fierce #OwnVoices novel because I love YA that both promises a great story and teaches me something about a culture I'm not familiar with. The Patron Saints of Nothing delivers on both counts.

Randy Ribay dedicates this novel to "the hyphenated" before diving into the story of Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American teen whose world is turned upside down when he learns that his estranged cousin has been murdered as part of President Duterte's brutal crackdown on drugs. Motivated to uncover the truth of his cousin's life and death, he travels to the Philippines to confront family secrets and honor his relative's legacy.

Rooted in fact (and equipped with an in-depth bibliography on Duterte's regime), Jay's story is both heartbreaking and lyrical. The book moves swiftly and encompasses everything from the intricacies of family politics, to the difficult feelings that accompany growing up as an immigrant in a homogeneous community, to the complexity of teenage crushes. I was deeply moved by Jay's journey and the way his relationships with his family, his culture, and his plans for the future developed as he searched for the truth about his cousin.

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Member ratings (296)

  • Katherine W.


    I thought I was a reasonably well informed adult who knew much about the world. I was wrong. This YA book has much to offer everyone, especially those traveling through the morally gray areas of life.

  • Lauren B.

    Saint Louis, MO

    This is an excellent, current book - through fiction, it exposes deep injustices happening right now in the Philippines. It's well written and will spark you to learn more about current & past events.

  • DeAnn A.

    San Antonio, TX

    Philipino, Philipino-Americans usual have a strong opinion of Dutuerte and the drug war in the Philipines. Ribay does a good job w capturing both sides of the argument, all thru a 17yo male narrator.

  • Helen M.

    Santa Barbara, CA

    There are so many things I love about this book. The writing is good, the characters are important, each bringing a new viewpoint to the story, and I learned a ton about the Philippines and Duterte.

  • Ryan B.

    Berkeley, CA

    as a Fil-Am reader, this book deserve all the praise for not only Pil rep in YA lit but also exploring identity and the issue of drugs in the PH in a well-executed that left me heartache & contented