August is Buwan ng Wika in the Philippines. And to celebrate this, people have been using the hashtag #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy to draw attention to the richness of Filipino literature.
To help support this, I vowed not only to read more Filipino books, but also to write reviews about them :-)
So to start it off, here's my review of Choco Chip Hips, a book released just last month by author Agay Llanera.
Choco Chip Hips
by Agay Llanera
Sixteen-year-old Jessie, a baking aficionado, is shy, overweight, and worries too much about what people think. But one summer, a family emergency makes her realize that life is too short to live it on autopilot. Taking her life by the reins, she embarks on a journey that involves ditching the apron for her tank top, as she hip-hop dances her way to new friendships, stronger family ties, and into her school’s most elite club
Super loved this book!
The well-written narrative pulls you in right from the start. The issues it tackled were very real and relatable. The main character, Jess, is overweight and not exactly part of the 'in' crowd. In the beginning, although a part of her wants to shake things up, she is generally accepting of her status in her school's social hierarchy. But then, a catalyst forces her to re-evaluate her life (and eating) choices and she (and her dad) decide to go healthy.
The long, difficult path toward a 'healthier Jess' is clearly portrayed. It shows the struggle---falling off the wagon, getting back up again, and finally finding her resolve and sticking to it. In the process, Jess learns much more than healthy eating habits, she learns that there's much more to her than she ever imagined. She sets a goal for herself, something she never even knew she wanted---a spot on the school dance crew, The Hoofers.
And I love how although romance is hinted at, there is so much more to the story than that. This is about Jess finding herself and (re)discovering her latent talents, learning that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and proving other people's misconceptions wrong. Most of all, I love how Jess does everything on her own terms.
A very empowering YA read that is truly full of heart :-)