Title: My Heart Underwanter
Author: Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Genre: Teen/young adult fiction, Contemporary
Book format: Pre-publication proof
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Description: Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at the Catholic school she attends on scholarship. Her crush on her teacher, Ms. Holden, doesn’t help. At home, Cory worries that less-than-perfect grades aren’t good enough for her parents, who already work overtime to support her distant half-brother in the Philippines.
After an accident leaves her dad comatose, Cory feels like Ms. Holden is the only person who really understands her. But when a crush turns into something more and the secret gets out, Cory is sent to her relatives in Manila. She’s not prepared to face strangers in an unfamiliar place, but she discovers how the country that shaped her past might also redefine her future.
This #ownvoices novel takes readers on a journey across the world as Cory comes to understand her family, her relationships, and ultimately, herself.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is a great story all about finding your place and being comfortable with who you are in the world. Teenager Corazon (Cory) Tagubio, born to Filipino parents living in the US, can’t stop thinking about her history teacher Ms Holden. Every time she sees her in class or meets with her for tutoring she has feelings and thoughts that aren’t appropriate for a student to have. In love with her teacher she soon acts on those feelings, but when her mum finds out there are terrible consequences and Cory is sent to spend the rest of her school year in the Philippines.

I really enjoyed this story, especially the cultural aspect of the Philippines and what Filipino families can be like. The school Cory goes to is a Catholic one and while she can’t help but feel attracted to her teacher, she’s also torn by her Catholic upbringing and what being attracted to a woman means. This mix of feelings leaves Cory torn about what to do and how to feel, especially when something happens to her father. Cory’s parents aren’t rich and when her father, working on the roof of a house one day, falls, he ends up in hospital in a coma. After Cory acts on her feelings towards her teacher her mother finds out and sends her away to the Philippines to live with her half brother Jun. The way this story unfolds is really interesting and I love what happens to Cory throughout.

Being the daughter of immigrant parents, something I can relate to myself, means Cory’s home life especially around her family and extended family are interesting to read. I like the way we learn a little about the Filipino culture and even some words of Tagalog early on. In the meantime we see how close Cory is getting to her teacher and why she has such a deep connection with her. The first half of the book takes place in the US while the second, slightly larger half, takes place in the Philippines. Once Cory makes the mistake on acting on her feelings towards her teacher she’s sent away in quite a dramatic fashion to stay with her half brother Jun. I’ve always liked books that show a different culture and I like the way this book slowly unfolded the world of the Philippines, from Cory’s point of view, showing us the poorer side as well as a glimpse into the wealthier part of the country too.

Seeing the country from Cory’s perspective was good and I like the way that we learned about some of the darker realities of life for some in the country as well as seeing some of the happier things too. At times Cory finds herself confused on how to be in the country and I really felt I could relate to her, one exciting/worrying taxi scene being something that summed up the feelings of confusion about a new culture. I also enjoyed finding out more about Cory’s parents through the interactions she had with various different people and where they came from and the stories around both of them and their families.

The ending is a satisfying one and I really enjoyed how things worked out for Cory and the other characters. I didn’t know what would happen and I like the way that Cory and Jun grew throughout the story. Something about this book just flowed so well from the start and I just found myself instantly interested in Cory’s life and the Filipino culture. Although my own family has different roots I can relate to how different things can be having immigrant parents and also how alien some of a county’s culture can feel when you first visit it. I really loved how this story went and the message it also gave about the relationship Cory had with an older adult and how things worked out in the end.

The book has just a few swear words and nothing else really upsetting other than what happens to Cory’s dad being in a coma. I didn’t know whether I would like this book when I started reading, but it soon became one I couldn’t put down and I have loved reading about Corazon and her Filipino family culture. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author and if you enjoy stories with different cultures as well as stories about coming to terms with and being comfortable with your own sexuality then I can recommend this book.

What do you think of this book?  Do you like books featuring different cultures?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂