Examinations of faith infuse nearly every line of this edition of New Letters. Imagine the boys in Rashaan Alexis Meneses’ story “The Others Are Strangers,” going to meet their father for dinner in another town. Imagine their deepest, yet unstated question, In whom can we have faith? Callum and, to a degree, his brother Ewan, want to know if their father is that person. Literature tends to expose the spiritual longings of its characters and, as such, allows us a look at ourselves. Somewhere, deep in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, we read, in Willis Barnstone’s translation, “If you reveal what is within you, what you have will save you.”
For “Here in the States,” short fiction in the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults published by PALH, 2009:
Gr 9 Up—This collection of 27 short stories, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Growing Up Filipino (PALH, 2003), reflects the impact of post-9/11 wartime sensibilities among Filipino writers living in the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. Although similar topics of family, memoir, and coming-of-age thread through both collections, the pieces are not grouped by theme, but nevertheless weave a constantly shifting tapestry of Filipino identity. The challenges and conflicts of unique ancestry and struggles for identity provide a rich background for modern urban realism. The brittle memoirs reflected in “Here in the States,” “Nurse Rita,” and “Hammer Lounge”; original legend in “A Season of 10,000 Noses”; and breathtaking tragedy in “How My Mother Flew,” among others, are compelling reading.
- Karen Pierce Gonzales, Folkheart Press: The Art of Folktales, December 29, 2009:
…Other stories also reveal the hard facts of immigrant life. Alma (‘Here in the States’ by Rashaan Alexis Meneses) struggles to understand how hard her mother must work as a nanny to make ends meet. Shame and sadness mingle when she questions the discrepancy between her mother’s role as a respected professional back home and her new role as a domestic helper. Adolescent resentment and rebellion about having to help care for younger siblings (something the maid back home did) further complicate Alma’s efforts to make sense of this new world. It is in her mother’s quiet strength and acceptance of life’s uncertainties that Alma finds her greatest comfort and connection.