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Reviewed by Grace Masso for Readers' Favorite
In The Typhoon's Eye: A Story of Childhood and Leaving Home by Bles Chavez-Bernstein is a childhood memoir that covers the author’s growing years in the Philippines through her coming-of-age, to leaving her family in pursuit of a dream. The author introduces readers to a family that has survived through moving from place to place and that has stuck together in spite of the odds. Her father is an ambitious man who wants to have a house for his family and the mother is a loyal wife with strong family values, a woman who stays with her husband even when he is caught cheating with his cousin, Ela. Bles takes readers on a ride through her childhood, exploring the exciting experiences and the climate in her family, allowing compelling images of locales she lived in and the lifestyle of the people to come out strongly in the writing. It is a story of family and love, and one that captures the theme of separation in a poignant manner, with the author forced by circumstances to leave her fiancé and children to seek greener pastures, hoping to keep her promise of freedom for herself, financial assistance for her family, and fidelity to Andy.
In The Typhoon's Eye is a unique memoir that those who have lived in the Philippines will adore. Bles Chavez-Bernstein has a unique voice and it is compelling. The descriptive nature of the writing pulled me in and some passages had me laughing, especially the way the author captures scenes from her childhood. One of the things I loved about this book is that it captures a reality that kids growing up in rural areas experience, such as feeling a kinship with nature and the woods. Her conversation with her mother about who owns the hills and the mountains is very revealing of the mind of a child. The family life is brilliantly written and the reader gets a clear idea of family values and what is most important for each member of this family. Locales where the protagonist has lived — from San Jose to the barrio of Guinaban, to Ocampo, and Sandig, carefully nestled in Mt Isarog, a dormant volcano — are well written. The narrative voice is lively and gripping, the prose crisp and the characters fully developed. In The Typhoon's Eye: A Story of Childhood and Leaving Home is engaging, emotionally rich, and depicts provincial life in the Philippines with compelling and colorful images. A wonderful memoir that reads like fiction.