Book Review: Gun Dealers' Daughter, by Gina Apostol

This review originally ran in the Friday, July 13, 2012 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. If you don't already subscribe, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

Gina Apostol's Gun Dealers' Daughter, a stunning novel of the Marcos-era Philippines, is a story of politics and passion, of insurrection and rebellion, of growing up and the consequences of childhood naïvete. When Soleded Soliman (Sol) leaves home for university in Manila, she finds herself swept up in the Communist fervor on campus. But, as the daughter of prominent gun dealers, she is a part of what is being rebelled against. Then again, perhaps all that matters is her crush on Jed, the ringleader of the pack, and perhaps she is really nothing but a useful fool in the rebellion.

"Words are all we have to save us," her doctors tell her years later, "but at the same time, they are not enough to make us whole." This proves to be the paradox of Sol's life, as she tells her story in a desperate attempt to find out who she was--and therefore, who she is--but in doing so, only rediscovers how little she understands. Her telling and retelling and editing and tweaking of her own history feels disjointed in the opening chapters, but ultimately proves to be one of the most successful aspects of Apostol's creation; the technique invites readers into the very core of Sol's experiences, accompanying her on her journey of self-understanding--and, perhaps more importantly, self-acceptance. In the end, Sol is left with as many questions as she has answers, but readers are treated to a captivating look into this period of Philippine history and the gripping story of one girl's struggles to find her place in the world.


Thoughts from other bookworms:


Gun Dealers' Daughter | Gina Apostol | W. W. Norton & Company | Hardcover | July 2012 | Buy from an independent near you

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