If my parents could write me the love letters I’ve long awaited, then it would look like ...

Book Review: "Heart in Two Places: An Immigrant's Journey" by Gemma Nemenzo

If my parents could write me the love letters I’ve long awaited, then it would look like the compilation that is Gemma Nemenzo’sHeart In Two Places: An Immigrant’s Journey.” With a brilliant foreword written by her oldest child, this book begs and answers the questions I’ve ever had and have somehow forgotten to ask my parents over the course my lifetime. The book consists of articles from her column Slant in the now discontinued Filipinas magazine.

In the first section of the book, “Assimilation Angst,” Nemenzo reasons through memories of leaving the Philippines for the U.S. She talks about moving with her family, struggling through various jobs, knowing the impact of change, and she gives advice on how immigrants can have each other’s backs.

The second section, “The Mommy Track,” Nemenzo talks, for the most part, about raising three children on her own in America. She addresses topics of sex, forgiveness, patience, raising American children. and the importance of learning life’s lessons.

In “Friends & Lovers” and “Middle-Age Spread,” Nemenzo drifts back and forth between memories of her involvement in political events in the Philippines, discusses death, grief, friendship, and even things like karaoke and weather that may symbolize much more to Pilipinos than people think.

In the final section, “Politics Is Personal,” we see just how well-connected, balanced, and good-hearted Nemenzo is when she addresses how her work and career life is taut with purpose. Her journalistic writing captures moments of contemplation, familial love, and the complex political climate of the Philippines.

Reading this book felt like taking a one-of-a-kind tour through a wise advice columnist’s life. The honest details of Nemenzo’s book show that her heart is not just in two places, but many places.

You can purchase this book from Anvil Publishing.  

Gemma Nemenzo is currently the head coordinator for the 1st Filipino American International Book Festival that will take place in San Francisco, CA on October 1-2, 2011.

Please visit http://filbookfest.wordpress.com/ for more information.