Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Juvenile
Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Starscape Books
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 288 pages
Format: eARC from the publisher
An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines’ North Manila Cemetery.
.After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.
When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.
With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.
Huge thanks to the publisher and my friend Kate from The Backwards Bookshelf for letting me be part of the #EverlastingNoraPH blog tour and for sending me an e-copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
Ever since I saw my friends Kate, Shealea, and Cara tweeting and hyping up Marie Miranda Cruz’ middle grade debut, Everlasting Nora, I grew quite curious about it and after looking it up on Goodreads and finding out that it is a middle grade novel set in my homeland about a girl who sold Everlasting garlands as a means of living at the Manila North Cemetery, I wanted so badly to jump on board that Filipino rep train. At first glance (at the synopsis), one would easily know that this book is going to be quite an emotional, realistic read, and so when Kate announced that she’s gonna be hosting a PH blog tour for this title, I wasted no time in signing up. Read on to know what I thought of this heartwarming debut.
Like I’ve said, one of the many reasons as to why I loved this book is because of how heartbreakingly realistic it is. Everlasting Nora is a story that takes place in the Manila North Cemetery, a place in the Philippines that screams poverty. Nora, our big-hearted, and persevering protagonist, lives in this area as a result of losing her father and their apartment to a fire. This also happens to be the place where the story mostly takes place and in every single page, readers would no doubt witness how hard life is for a lot of Filipinos, especially for the less fortunate ones, or as referred to in the book multiple times, the squatters. As a Filipino born and raised in Metro Manila, I can attest to the accurate representation of poverty found within this book’s story. For years, I’ve seen so many people unlawfully inhabiting unused lands, and yes, even cemetery mausoleums, and getting to read a middle grade story about these people’s lifestyle broke my heart.
Another aspect that I love about this story is Nora’s relationship with Jojo. Jojo is a hardworking character who works as a water boy and looks after her grandmother who also happens to be his closest relative. They’ve been living at the Manila North Cemetery longer than Nora and her mother has and his friendship with our protagonist made Nora’s story a lot bearable to read. She goes through so much hardships and so whenever I got to read scenes about her and Jojo, it felt like I was literally taking a break from all the pain and emotions. Much like Nora, I depended on him and his friendship with our heroine for short bursts of optimism and I very much enjoyed getting to know him as I did Nora. Our main character is lucky to have someone like Jojo stand by her side against all odds.
And last, but certainly not the least, I appreciated the fact that education and religion somehow played a big role in Nora’s life. In several chapters, Efren Peñaflorida, the man behind pushcart classrooms, makes appearances showing just how important education is especially for Filipino youth. Lots of people agree, Dr. Jose Rizal and myself included, that the youth is the hope of our future. And Nora seemed to have the same idea even after having to drop out of school. If it weren’t for the challenges she went through, and if she had her way, she’d want nothing more than to return to school. Add to that the fact that Nora always turned to God and prayer for help. I loved seeing just how faithful she is and how she always believed that everything will work out okay in the end. It’s hard to feel optimistic in times of great need and so seeing this quality embedded in Nora made my Filipino heart jump for joy and pride.
“Everlasting Nora is a heartfelt story about friendship, perseverance, love, optimism, and the undying Filipino spirit. It puts a spotlight on an important story about the bonds that make us human, a daughter’s unrelenting love for her family, and the unique qualities that make a person truly Filipino. It’s a moving narrative worthy of being read by all kinds of readers, regardless of one’s nationality, race, or social standing. You need to read this book.”
Also, here’s an aesthetic board that I made that’s inspired by Nora’s story:
Have YOU read Everlasting Nora yet? If not, be sure to grab a copy from your local book store and start reading it! Once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!
And before you go, I would love it if you could check out the other posts published for this blog tour:
Marie Miranda Cruz was born in the Philippines. She spent most of her formative years moving between her hometown, Cavite City, and several cities in the United States while her father served in the United States Navy. When her dad retired, she moved back to the Philippines where she completed both high school and college. The first holiday she experienced in the Philippines was All Saints Day. It was this experience that inspired her to write her first novel, Everlasting Nora.
Marie now lives in Los Angeles with her family and a tank of fighting fish. When she isn’t writing books for kids, she may be analyzing chromosomes in a genetics lab, reading a good book, or knitting ponchos and fingerless gloves.
She is represented by Paula Munier, Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC.
Until the next one!
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