An extraordinarily beautiful novel-in-verse, this important debut weaves a dramatic immigrant story together with Pilipino mythology to create something wholly new.
Stella and Luna know that their mama, Elsie, came from the Philippines when she was a child, but they don't know much else. So one night they ask her to tell them her story. As they get ready for bed, their mama spins two tales: that of her youth as a strong-willed middle child and immigrant; and that of the young life of Mayari, the mythical daughter of a god. Both are tales of sisterhood and motherhood, and of the difficult experience of trying to fit into a new culture, and having to fight for a home and acceptance. Glorious and layered, this is a portrait of family and strength for the ages.
About the Author
Cookie Hiponia was born in the Philippines and immigrated to America when she was nine years old. As the mother of children born into two cultures, Cookie had spent years searching for books that reflect her family’s experience. When she couldn’t find such a book, she heeded Toni Morrison and wrote the book she wanted to read with her daughters. We Belong is that book, a semi-autobiographical middle grade novel-in-verse about the Pilipino American immigrant experience that weaves in Tagalog cosmic mythology. Cookie lives in Seattle with her family.
★ "Sometimes raw and traumatic, other times hopeful and inspiring, Elsie’s bedtime story rings true, encapsulating the heart of Pilipino culture. A beautiful and poignant tale of immigration fused with Tagalog myth." —Kirkus, starred review
★ "Deeply poignant . . . Infusing the heart of Pinoy culture into a moving, accessible bedtime narrative, this “story of outsiders” will resonate with anyone who has felt estranged in the place they call home." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Deceptively gentle verse novel punctuated with rounded, friendly illustrations . . . This book packs a lot into spacious, spare lines, and it would work well in conversations about family, immigration, Pilipino history, and world mythology." —BCCB
"Showcases not only the very tight bonds of Filipino families but also their perseverance . . . The book’s strength lies in Everman's ability to weave a plot that incorporates Filipino mythology with a personal immigration story." —Booklist
"Everman’s poetry is indeed music to the ear, replete with rich language and vivid imagery . . . This book should find a place in libraries committed to providing diverse books for all students so they can know they belong." —School Library Connection
“Simply beautiful. The kind of book that holds you close and won’t let go.” —Erin Entrada Kelly, winner of the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe
“Written in poignant and at times ethereal free verse, We Belong is at once beautiful and sad, comforting and disturbing, and as tender and fierce as the love with which it is told.” —Marilyn Hilton, winner of the APALA Award for Full Cicada Moon
"A beautiful, intertwined story of searching for a home away from home, told as two tales. Heart-wrenching, engaging, and full of hope." —K. S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro