Reality is Harsh | BookishFirst

Reality is Harsh

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Jay is perfectly happy to lead the life of a typical American teenager, hanging out with his friend, playing video games and going to school, until he finds out that his cousin Jun in the Phillipines has died. Having formed a friendship at a young age with Jun this affects Jay deeply, and leads him to take a trip to the Phillipines over his spring break to find out why Jun died. This puts him in a completely different world with rules he's not used to playing by and slowly understanding that things are much more complicated than he thought. Ribay does a fantastic job of writing a young adult book in a way that speaks to young adults about a very difficult topic. His is one of those gems that takes a real life issue that grown adults struggle with and puts the mantle of responsibility on a teenager. Losing someone you love is incredibly difficult. Losing someone who didn't have to be lost is harder. Learning who that person really is - both good and bad is perhaps one of the hardest things to come to grips with of all. This story is both heartwarming and heartbreakingly sad and perfect in conveying the struggles of personal identity, family identity and society identity.