This summer we are highlighting #OwnVoices books. #OwnVoices, a hashtag created by Corinne Duyvis, highlights books that are written by an author that shares a marginalized identity with the protagonist because the best people to represent a marginalized group are those who experience that marginalization. We love being able to share these great books by amazing authors with you!
Arsenic and Adobo is a contemporary fictitious mystery by Mia P. Manansala. This novel, the first book in the forthcoming Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, is an entertaining, quick read that will keep you guessing until the end.
The story starts as a romance novel with Lila Macapagal having just moved back home to Shady Palms to help her aunt. The author shows her sense of humor right away at the start of book as she compares the story to a Hallmark movie.
My name is Lila Macapagal and my life has become a rom-com cliché.The book quickly captures your attention as you wonder if Lila will find love again in her hometown of Shady Palms and you soon meet a couple of primary characters that could be likely candidates.
Not many romantic comedies feature an Asian-American lead (or dead bodies, but more on that later), but all the hallmarks are there.
Girl from an improbably named small town in the Midwest moves to the big city to make a name for herself and find love? Check.
Girl achieves these things only for the world to come crashing down when she walks in on her fiancé getting down and dirty with their next-door neighbors (yes, plural)? Double check.
Girl then moves back home in disgrace and finds work reinvigorating her aunt's failing business? Well now we're up to a hat trick of clichés.
And to put the cherry on top, in the trope of all tropes, I even reconnected with my high school sweetheart after moving back to town and discovered the true meaning of Christmas.
Even through the story starts out as a romance novel, the author has a surprise for you as the story takes a sudden turn and Lila is now not only in the middle of a murder investigation, but she is one of the main suspects!
Derek’s Salabat-Spiced Banana Bread from blog post
Cooking the Books: Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Filipino-American culture, traditions, and food are woven throughout the book. From the appearance of adobo in the meal in the very first chapter to the food served at the (multiple) funerals, food makes an appearance at every family event, gathering, and crisis. The author also includes recipes at the end of the book if you want to give a few dishes a try yourself!
Family also plays a center role in the book and throughout the book we see how family members are honored and treasured. "Family” also extends far beyond the immediate biologic members to family friends as is shown by the role the aptly named “Calendar Aunts” play in the book.
There are so many great books written by Filipina authors. The Next Somewhere website has put together a lovely list of other books written by Filipina authors, including Arsenic and Adobo! If you see a book on the list we don't have at our Library that you'd like to read, just ask and we can borrow one for you for free through our state-wide inter-library loan system!
Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala
The next book in the series, Homicide and Halo-Halo, is scheduled to come out in February 2022!