A YA novel about Duterte’s Drug War exists

The usual young adult novels are about romance, dystopia, and coming-of-age. But Randy Ribay’s new YA novel doesn’t give us kilig or a strong female lead in a distant future. Instead, his novel hits us with the drug war’s harsh realities. 

Ribay’s new novel, Patron Saints of Nothing, follows a Filipino-American teenager preparing for his freshman year at Michigan, only to find out his cousin died in the Philippines due to Duterte’s drug war. He returns to the Philippines to find answers. During his stay there, he learns more about the drug war’s casualties and complicated history.

Patron Saints gives readers a complex perspective on the killings. Although YA might be an unusual genre to tackle this subject, our drug war has been targeting the youth. They’ve lowered the age of criminal responsibility to nine years, threatened young people in gigs, and slain innocent children like Kian Delos Santos.

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Our safety is in danger. And this novel recognizes our plight.

I’m proud of the story and am eager for people to engage with it, but I’m also anxious over whether readers will enjoy it, will find it a meaningful contribution to the ongoing conversation about the drug war,” the author tells Inquirer. “For Filipino-American and Filipino readers, I hope that they feel seen. And for all readers, I hope they walk away with more empathy, with an increased understanding of the drug war’s human impact.”

Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing is available in Fully Booked and Pandayan Bookshop.

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Rogin Losa
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