by Peter Bacho
published by University of Washington Press, paper, 206 pages, ISBN 0-295-97132-0
Review by Publishers Weekly, Sept 27, 1991 v238 n43 p42(1)
COPYRIGHT 1991 Cahners Business Information

Bacho's disturbing first novel updates the classic conflict between spirit and flesh in the struggles of a young Filipino-American priest. In 1983 Ben Lucero leaves his Seattle parish for the burial of his mother Remedios in her homeland, the Philippine city of Cebu. Here he learns about his mother's past from her best friend Clara, now a powerful figure in Philippine politics. The two women endured the Japanese occupation of Manila in WW II, a harrowing experience that hardened the atheist Clara while reinforcing Remedios's faith, which she passed on to the frail son she had by a Filipino-American soldier. That faith is put to the test when Ben meets Clara's seductive assistant Ellen, who helps him lose his virginity and later becomes pregnant. Ben's spiritual crisis is heightened by guilt and by the blase reactions of locals to the crucifixion-style suicide of an old man. Returning to Seattle, Ben encounters even more brutality in a surprise twist that ends Bacho's edgy, emotional novel on a tragic note.

Review Grade: A




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