Book Review | My Heart Underwater by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

Author : Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
Published on : October 20, 2020
Publisher : Quill Tree Books
Genre : Fiction, YA Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
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After Corazon’s mother catches her kissing her older female teacher, Corazon is sent to the Philippines to live with a half brother she barely knows. There she learns more about loss and love than she could have ever imagined.

Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at her Catholic school. She’s attending on scholarship, she keeps to herself, and her crush on her teacher Ms. Holden doesn’t help anything. At home, Cory’s less-than-perfect grades disappoint her mom and dad, who are already working overtime to support her distant half brother in the Philippines.

When an accident leaves her dad comatose, Cory feels like Ms. Holden is the only person who really sees her. But when a crush turns into something more and the secret gets out, Cory is sent to her half brother. She’s not prepared to face a stranger in an unfamiliar place, but she begins to discover how the country that shaped her past might also change her future.

Corazon is going through some though times. Her father is in a coma after an accident and the only person she thinks she can understand her is her history teacher, Ms. Holden. The truth is Corazon has feelings for Ms. Holden and when her mother caught the two of them kissing, Corazon is sent to the Philippines. She then discovers a lot of things about her own family and her distant half-brother.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is set in the U.S and the second is in the Philippines. The second part is definitely my favorite and I liked that the setting somehow felt like a character too. I thought the author did a great job describing the different places and even give specific details on everyday lives in the Philippines. Reading this book made me miss living in the Philippines. Watching my favorite bands perfom (I love the UP Fair), eating fishballs, going to the beach and a lot more. There’s just one thing that I noticed. The author consistently mention the poverty in the country which I appreciate because it’s accurate and true but there’s no need to bring it up like every chapter. It became quite repetitive.

I loved the character development and the family dynamic in this book. I wasn’t entirely sure about Corey’s character at first because she seemed ungrateful and unrespectful. But I got to know her more throughout the story and I was able to sympathize with her. She comes from a Catholic family, goes to a Catholic school and she’s queer. This made her feel like an outsider and a disappointment to her parents. She is also scared and worried for her father.

I was very satisfied with how the teacher-student relationship turned out in the story. I thought that the romance (not the teacher-student) towards the end seems unnecessary. I don’t have problems with insta-love especially if I feel like I know both of the characters involved but in this book the romance felt like an afterthought. Overall, this was a great debut novel and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

My Rating : ★★★★☆

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