When the Elephants Dance

( 40 )

Overview

“Papa explains the war like this: ‘When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.’ The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens.”

Once in a great while comes a storyteller who can illuminate worlds large and small, magical and true to life. When the Elephants Dance   introduces us to the incandescent voice of Tess ...

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When the Elephants Dance

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Overview

“Papa explains the war like this: ‘When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.’ The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens.”

Once in a great while comes a storyteller who can illuminate worlds large and small, magical and true to life. When the Elephants Dance   introduces us to the incandescent voice of Tess Uriza Holthe, who sets her remarkable first novel in the waning days of World War II, as the Japanese and the Americans engage in a fierce battle for possession of the Philippine Islands. The Karangalan family and their neighbors huddle for survival in the cellar of a house a few miles from Manila. Outside the safety of their little refuge the war rages on—fiery bombs torch the beautiful Filipino countryside, Japanese soldiers round up and interrogate innocent people, and from the hills guerillas wage a desperate campaign against the enemy. Inside the cellar, these men, women, and children put their hopes and dreams on hold as they wait out the war, only emerging to look for food, water, and medicine.

Through the eyes of three narrators, thirteen-year-old Alejandro Karangalan, his spirited older sister Isabelle, and Domingo, a passionate guerilla commander, we see how ordinary people must learn to live in the midst of extraordinary uncertainty, how they must find hope for survival where none seems to exist. They find this hope in the dramatic history of the Philippine Islands and the passion and bravery of its people. Crowded together in the cellar, the Karangalans and their friends and neighbors tell magical stories to one another based on Filipino myth and legend to fuel their courage, pass the time, and teach important lessons. The group is held spellbound by these stories, which feature a dazzling array of ghosts, witches, supernatural creatures, and courageous Filipinos who changed the course of history with their actions. These profoundly moving stories transport the listeners from the chaos of the war around them and give them new resolve to fight on.

With When the Elephants Dance Holthe has not only written a gripping narrative of how Alejandro, Isabelle, Domingo and their community fight for survival, but a loving tribute to the magical realism that infuses Filipino culture. The stories shared by her characters are based on the same tales handed down to Holthe from her Filipino father and lola, her grandmother. This stunning debut novel is the first to celebrate in such richness and depth the spirit of the Filipino people and their fascinating story and marks the introduction of a talented new author who will join the ranks of writers such as Arundhati Roy, Manil Suri, and Amy Tan.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
In the summer of 2001, Discover fans thrilled to Ghost Soldiers, Hampton Sides' gripping account of a U.S. mission to rescue American and British POWs behind enemy lines in the Philippines during World War II. Half a year later, Discover returns to the war-ravaged Philippines in the mystical and utterly enthralling novel When the Elephants Dance.

The title of the work comes from a remark recounted by Alejandro, a young Filipino boy and the first of several narrators in this richly imaginative book: "Papa explains the war like this," he says. "When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful." Alejandro explains that the "chickens" are symbolic of the Filipinos, scratching out their means of survival while the hulking American and Japanese armies battle for control over the land, leaving many dead in their wake. As Alejandro and his brother forage for the family's sustenance, "the blue flies cover the bodies like death veils. They land on our faces bringing kisses from the dead. We swat them away quickly."

For all of its grittiness, When the Elephants Dance is also filled with hope and spirit. The characters who populate Alejandro's world -- his caring father, Carlito; his selfish neighbor, Aling Anna; and his family's quiet friend, Mang Ped -- tell each other stories from the past to illustrate the difficult life lessons they have learned. Inspired by the actual experiences of her Filipino father, in this first novelistic effort Tess Uriza Holthe has created a lyrical treasure about a people readers will never forget. (Winter 2002 Selection)

Publishers Weekly
"Papa explains the war like this," narrates 13-year-old Alejandro as he heads through a series of Japanese barricades and check points. " `When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.' The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens." Inspired by her father, who grew up in the Philippines under the Japanese occupation during WWII, first-time novelist Holthe writes about the experience from a variety of civilian perspectives. Set in Manila during the final week of the Japanese-American battle for control of the islands, the novel centers on a small, mismatched group of families and neighbors who huddle in a cellar while Japanese occupiers terrorize and pillage above. Because food and water are scarce, some of the refugees must leave the shelter to forage for sustenance. In simple, strong language, Holthe conveys the terrifying experience of darting bullets and machetes above ground and the equally horrendous experience of waiting for loved ones to return. Grounded in Philippine myth and culture, the novel is filled with beautiful, allegorical stories told by the story's elders, who try to share wisdom and inspire their captive audience in the midst of gruesome violence. Primarily narrated by Alejandro; his older, headstrong sister, Isabelle; and Domingo, a guerrilla commander living a double life one with his family in the cellar, the other with his true love and adopted son in his rebel army this beautiful, harsh war story is no epic. Rather, Holthe presents personal, pointed fragments that clearly demonstrate history's cultural and personal fallout. (Jan.) Forecast: A promotional blitz an eight-city author tour, targeted marketing to Asian organizations, and radio and print advertising campaigns should alert readers who appreciate simple, moving storytelling to this powerful debut. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
"When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful." Using this Filipino saying, the Karangalan family patriarch describes the Philippine Islands at the end of WW II as the Japanese and U.S. forces battle for control of the islands. As they hide with neighbors in the basement of their home, the narrative of the book shifts between the members of the Karangalan family-the young son tortured by the Japanese for information, the teenage daughter who wants to become a doctor, and the father desperate for his family's survival-and their friends as they relate their experience of the present and hear the stories of the past from one another. The role of religion, both the Catholic tradition and the belief in the supernatural that lives alongside it, is shown both as a element of oppression by the original Spanish conquerors and as a stronghold of faith by the individuals who cling to it in a time of crisis. The swirl of stories from past and present effortlessly gives a rich history of the Philippine Islands up to and including the years of WW II and showcases the region's Asian, European and native influences. Due to the graphic violence and scenes of rape, this book will be limited to senior high and adult collections, but should be considered an essential addition to any multicultural fiction collection. KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Penguin, 368p., Ages 15 to adult.
— Courtney Lewis
Library Journal
"Papa explains the war like this: `When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.' " This opening line from Holthe's first novel provides a succinct description of the tale that follows. The chickens in this case are a small group of Filipinos living near Manila in the final, bloody days of World War II. After nearly three years of violent Japanese occupation, the Karangalans and several of their neighbors, including the wife of a famous guerrilla commander, are holed up in the basement of their house as U.S. forces advance on Manila. To fuel their courage and sustain their hope, the basement dwellers spend time telling magical tales based on Filipino myth and legend tales that teach important lessons about life, love, and responsibility. Based to some degree on the experience of Holthe's father, this paean to the courage and resilience of the Filipino people is not for the squeamish. But it is an impressive debut, with well-drawn characterizations and a plot that readily captures and holds the reader's interest. Highly recommended for all public and larger academic collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/01.] David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This gripping tale of love, war, indomitable courage, and the struggle for independence will captivate teens and enchant them with Filipino folktales, while providing them a glimpse of another culture. In 1945, as the U.S. fights to regain control of the Philippines from Japan, the Karangalan family huddles with neighbors in the basement of their house outside Manila, hiding from Japanese patrols. Papa says, "When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful." The beasts are the Amerikanos and the Japanese; the Filipinos are the chickens. Isabelle, 17, leaves the cellar to visit a cousin. She is captured by Japanese soldiers and raped, but escapes with the help of a friend. Her brother Alejandro, 13, is stopped and tortured by Japanese soldiers while trying to barter for food, but is released, making his way home empty-handed. Domingo, a guerilla fighter wounded by the Japanese, also makes his way to the cellar, where his wife and son are hiding. The group seeks respite from the horrors of war by telling stories, weaving magical tales of ghosts, family curses, and the spirit world with moral lessons about greed, love, and the importance of family. Finally, the Japanese find their hiding place, and they are imprisoned in a warehouse in Manila. The building catches fire, and in a dramatic climax the Filipinos fight their way out and are rescued by victorious American soldiers.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Romantic and patriotic heroics fill this WWII-set debut: a remarkably rich story about a disparate group of Filipinos thrown together in their struggle to survive the Japanese occupation. In the basement of a battered house outside Manila, a group of neighbors hides from the Japanese. To pass the time, to ward off fear, perhaps even to offer guidance, the inhabitants take turns telling stories. The first two, about a seller of potions and a fisherman with dark powers, have a magical-realist atmosphere. Then comes a series of tales focused on family that emphasizes human relationships and psychological nuance. The final stories deal with broader issues: racism, and political commitment. These oral fictions, often repetitive and verging on the sentimental, weave through a broader narrative of the group's wartime trials as battle rages between American and Japanese forces (the "elephants" of the title). Thirteen-year-old Alejandro, sent out to scavenge for food, stays courageously silent when the Japanese briefly detain him. He thinks he sees the local hero and freedom fighter Domingo taken away to be shot. Actually, thanks to Alejandro's sister Isabelle, Domingo escapes and reconnoiters with his lover Nina and his band of freedom fighters. Meanwhile, Isabelle is imprisoned by the Japanese and raped before Feliciano, previously a Japanese sympathizer, saves her. They all end up back in Alejandro's parents' basement, along with Domingo's wife and children, Feliciano's rich aunt, a brave young journalist, a seer, an elderly Spanish artist, and his cowardly son, among others. The Japanese eventually discover the group, which is force-marched to a warehouse prison. Domingo's conflict betweenallegiance to his family and his political/military obligations gradually takes center stage, but each supporting character's ethical battle resonates brightly, however briefly, and the author keeps the moral choices each faces too complex to second-guess. A well-orchestrated chorus of voices that should strike a strong chord with many.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142002889
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/24/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 407,951
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Tess Uriza Holthe grew up in a Filipino American family in San Francisco. When the Elephants Dance is inspired, in part, by the experiences of her father, who was a young boy in the Philippines during World War II.

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Read an Excerpt

January 1945

Papa explains the war like this: "When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful." The great beasts, as they circle one another, shaking the trees and trumpeting loudly, are the Amerikanos and the Japanese as they fight. And our Philippine Islands? We are the small chickens. I think of baby chicks I can hold in the palm of my hand, flapping wings that are not yet grown, and I am frightened.

Papa is sick. His malaria has returned double strong, and his face is the color of dishwater. He sweats in his sleep but shakes beneath the woven blankets. When he talks there is phlegm and a quaking in his voice that is hard to listen to. As eldest son, I have been given the duty of food trader for the day. I go in search of rice, beans, camotes, papaya, pineapple, canned tomatoes, Carnation milk, quinine for the malaria, anything I can find. Even the foul-smelling durian fruit with its spiked shell would be a blessing. Pork would be a miracle. We are all very thin like skeletons.

Since the Japanese chased the Amerikanos away three years ago, a kilo of rice now costs fifty centavos, more than four times the original price. The Japanese have created new money, but it is no good. We call it Mickey Mouse money. We trade for everything these days, work, food, medicine.

I carry my basket of cigarettes to barter with. I worked twelve evenings in Manila to earn these, serving coffee and whiskey to the families on Dewey Boulevard who have been allowed to remain in their mansions and villas. These families were the ones who stood in the streets and waved white flags for the Japanese Imperial Army when they first arrived. I would walk twenty kilometers south each day from our hometown of Santa Maria in Bulacan province to work these houses in Manila. I kept watch as the men smoked and played mah-jongg on the stone-and-marble verandas. Their tables faced Manila Bay, her violet sunsets, and the streets lined with coconut palms.

At the end of each evening, I would go to see the hostess, Dona Alfonsa, her face white like a geisha's from too much talcum. She sat in her spacious parlor beneath a row of matching ceiling fans. The blades were made of straw and shaped like spades. Each night she lifted opal-ringed fingers and counted three packs of Lucky Strikes. One for every four hours that I worked. She paid me in cigarettes, and I made certain the cups were always full.

My brother, Roderick, accompanies me in my search for food. He is two years younger, and today is his tenth birthday. We must be careful not to step on the dead, and the Japanese soldiers must be avoided at all costs. The first is Mama's request, the second, Papa's order.

"Pay attention." I grab Roderick by his shirt and point to a man lying facedown.

He frowns. "It is impossible. They are everywhere."

The stench is terrible in this heat. It rises like steam from a bowl of bad stew. I try to breathe through my mouth. Mrs. Del Rosario has been staring at the sky for three days. Her skin has rotted, and the animals have taken their share. Her robe is thrown open, and her right leg is pointed in a strange direction. I try not to look when we pass. Roderick becomes stuck to his spot. He was a favorite of hers.

"Don't look. We must go." I nudge him.

He turns to me. His eyes are angry and red. He looks away.

The blue flies cover the bodies like death veils. They land on our faces, bringing kisses from the dead. We swat them away quickly.

Early this morning, before light, we heard the rumble of tanks and saw many Amerikano soldiers in green uniforms and heavy boots marching in the dark. Papa said that their destination would be the Paco railroad station, an area well guarded by the enemy.

Ever since General MacArthur's voice was heard on the radio saying that he has returned, all citizens have taken to hiding in their cellars. No one leaves their homes unless it is an emergency. It is best to stay hidden from the Japanese soldiers. Their tempers are short now that the Amerikanos have reappeared. They are quick to slap us on the face or grab a fistful of our hair. Everyone is under the suspicion of being for MacArthur.

There are barricades and checkpoints every two kilometers. At these spots the Japanese stand with bayonets and their special police, the Kempeitai. There are Filipinos who stand with them called Makapilis. It is short for Makabayang Pilipino, which means "our fellow countrymen." The Makapili are Japanese sympathizers. They are pro-Asian and do not want the Amerikanos to come back. The Makapilis help the Kempeitai hunt for guerrillas. Papa calls the Makapili cowards because they hide behind cloth masks. One finger from them and a Filipino can be sentenced to death. They will turn in their countrymen without hesitation. The Japanese have poisoned our minds against one another.

Amerikano bombers fly in a V shape above. We watch their silver underbellies, ripe with strength.

"This way," I tell my brother.

"V for victory. Go, Joe!" Roderick shouts with fist raised.

"Quiet," I tell him. We hurry, crouching low to the ground, ready to dive. The ground shakes and the sky rumbles from their passing. My head spins from our quick movements. I steady myself against a tree. Roderick is the same way. We have grown much weaker in the last month from lack of food. There is no food to be found. Any supply trucks are ambushed by the guerrillas. It was better when we had the cow; at least we had milk. Papa worked so hard not to slaughter her, only to have someone steal her when we slept.

"We must not move so fast. Stay close," I tell Roderick.

"Papa said to stay away from the city," he protests.

"I know." I keep moving, and he follows as always.

We walk south toward Manila.

"Papa told us not to go toward the city." Roderick catches up to me. He pulls my arm in frustration.

"It is okay," I tell him.

From behind comes the sound of tanks approaching. We stop arguing and jump into a banana grove. Five Amerikano tanks, followed by fifty soldiers on foot. We come out of our hiding place. A few of the soldiers look our way.

"Tommy guns," I breathe.

"And carbines," Roderick adds, shooting the trees with imaginary bullets. "But where are the big guns that have been shaking our house?"

"Already in Manila. Come. We will follow behind."

Roderick stares at me.

My stomach twists from hunger. Already my brow is dripping with sweat from the heat, and the dust is caught in my throat. I take my palm and swipe it across my eyes. "We have to find food. Papa's sickness is getting worse. Do you want to go back? Why don't you go back." I leave him standing with his arms crossed.

He follows. "Why do they not bury her?"

"Who?" I ask, looking at the scattered bodies. It is difficult to see whom the faces once belonged to.

"Mrs. Del Rosario."

"For what? She is gone."

"I hope someone buries me," Roderick says.

I look at my brother. "Do not say that. Make the sign of the cross." He does so. His blue shirt is too large. The collar falls over his shoulder, and I can see his skin stretched over the bones.

"Alejandro?" He holds my gaze.

"Yes?"

"Will that happen to us?"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 40 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2010

    Wonderful story uniquely told

    World War II is a time we've all study in school - Hitler and Kamikaze war planes, bombings in London and Chinese death marches... but what have you read about the war in the Philippines?

    This story blends history, family dynamics, and folklore to weave a unique view of what happened to the people of the Philippines who risked their lives to help the Americans hold the Pacific front against the Japanese changing their country forever.

    I truly hope that Tess Uriza Holthe write more for us. She paints such vivid pictures with her words making the reader feel themselves right beside the characters as the interact with each other.

    Do I recommend this book? Most definately, to anyone interested in World War II, the Pacific, or the Philippines.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wish I had known about this book sooner!

    Just read this book, came across it by chance on eReader, but when I saw the topic I thought I should read this to understand my husband's family background better. I never expected to find this beautifully written and painfully described rendition of the Japanese/American struggle for Manila during WWII. It artfully combines the story of the war, weaving in the many legends and stories shared through the generations. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2004

    loved it...read it twice

    This was a beautifully written book...My mother is filipino and it helped me understand how her life was growing up there and the sense of love she had with her family

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2003

    a story that needs to be told

    Our shelves are filled with storys of the horrors of the Nazis. It is so easy to forget that there was another war. Except for a few stories about Prisoners of War, there has not yet been a real story of how the war effected the ordinary people of the Philippines. Although there are some inaccuracies in the book, the tale is effective and ,to my limited knowledge, does reflect many aspects of the culture. I am not a filipino in fact, but am in spirit as I lived there 8 years and have been married to a Filipina for 34 years. I sincerely hope that this book receives serious attention.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2003

    Impressive!

    I'm not a book lover at all...but when I read "When Elephants Dance," I was amazed and fell in love with the book. I'm 17 and I have learned so much about my culture in this book. Just like Holthe, I have been wanting for this kind of history and stories about the Philippines, but the only thing you'll find are travel guides. It was such a poignant, moving and rich story. You will feel like you're in the shoes of these amazing characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2002

    A mind-opener to anthor culture

    I expected a more gruesome novel, but it's filled with beautiful stories. I was ashamed that I did not know anything about their rich culture and history until I read this book. Despite the great (and very unpleasant) involvement with the Philippines, we (I'm a Japanese - one of the 'Elephants') learned nothing about them. I hope this novel will be translated into Japanese as well, so that we'll have a better understanding of the Philippines and her people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2002

    A dance not so memorable...

    Despite the love and sympathy that I felt as I read this novel, I still feel that the author has failed a great deal in her research. Not only does this novel pass very slowly, but also reflects the lack of knowledge of the Pilipino culture by the author. Being a filipino, I felt that the author has done an injustice for our people. I do applaud the author's attempt at creating a novel to represent and sympathize with the pilipino people, but at the same time Iam saddened at her failure to pay more attention to detail.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2002

    What a beautiful 'dance'

    I don't even have the words to describe how wonderful I thought this book was! From the very 1st page I was hooked...Every character, every situation, held me spellbound, and the addition of the 'stories' was amazing! I learned, I laughed, I cried, I FELT! I love this book! Read it for yourself, you will not be dissappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2014

    This book is beautifully written. The characters are well-drawn

    This book is beautifully written. The characters are well-drawn and compassionately created and the subject matter touchingly handled. . I was immediately drawn into the story and hated to see it end. Amazing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    One of the best reads I've come across in a long time!

    Not only is the plot line interesting, but the author tells the story in a way that pulls you into the time and era of the setting. She also takes great care into adding the authenticity of the Filipino culture into the story line and paints a poignant, individualized description of each character.

    Over all, the book has greatly piqued my interest in historical-fiction, as well as spark a greater interest in my Filipino heritage. It now inspires me to inquire my elders on their experiences and ask them what it was like to grow up in the Philippines during WWII!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Dreamy and heartbreaking! An unforgettable story of love & war!

    Tess Uriza Holthe writes a tragic and hopeful tale set amidst war and destruction. As each of her characters attempt to survive the devastation of war by sharing fantastical stories, you find yourself falling deeply in love with them. This is easily one of the most beautiful and memorable novels I've ever read and remains among my top 5!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2009

    Book Review: Mrs. Rosencrans Class

    When the Elephants Dance is written in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation in World War II. The main plot focuses on one group of friends and family who are hiding out in a basement together. Four different parts highlight the activities from separate people's viewpoints. The major part of the book tells the story of the family's struggles to get food with out being captured by the Japanese soldiers, or even worse a Makapali, Filipino sympathizers. Though the fighting is mainly between the Amerikanos and the Japanese there are other contenders as well. The Filipino guerillas, for example, helped the Amerikanos in any way they could. They wanted the Japanese to stop killing and torturing what few of the loved ones people had left.
    An interesting aspect of the writing style of this book is that there will be a chapter or two about the current day during the war; then for a chapter, sometimes longer, there will be a little antidote from one of the group. These short inserts always tie beautifully into whatever is happening to the group in their present day. Not only do the antidotes break up the sorrowful tone, they help you connect with the characters more closely because you go on a miniature replica of the emotional rollercoaster that so obviously is their life.
    Many of the characters are strong admirable people, though there are a few in the group who are very disagreeable in my opinion. Domingo Matapang is one of these characters. Or at least I thought he was for the whole first half of the book, until it comes to the fourth part and you get to see the situation form his point of view. Throughout the book the characters struggle innumerable amounts of strife, but this book shows the true power in numbers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2009

    Very Touching

    A family member recommended this book to read. I have only been to the Philippines once when I was 4yrs old. Being a Filipino-American, growing up in the states and not wanting to listen to the stories at the time...I regret. After reading this book twice - to feel the characters and what they were going through, I cried. To think they could have been my grandparents or aunts & uncles. I was too young to listen back then and I regret it. But to have this book and have my kids read it means a lot. It may not be exactly as how my grandparents lived but it is very close and it is greatly written. I have recommended this to all my friends. It is a memoir for me and a regret that I did not take the time to listen and took it for granted. I will forever keep this book to read every few months or years to remind me where I came from and how I got here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2008

    OUTSANDING!

    Even though 'When the Elephants Dance' is a fictional novel, it really depicts what the the Philippines went through during WWII. Their are more details in this book then in any History textbook about WWII.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2007

    This book was awsome

    This book was assigned to our class, and I was expecting some boring book. However, I have to admit I really loved it. I have no family from the Philippines, but loved it anyway. It has so much history packed into it, but its not at all boring. I recommend all my friends, family and even teachers to read this book. It has something everyone, even from our highschool lives, can related to. From being raped to finding love, to discovering freedom

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2006

    Never Forget...

    As a Filipino-American, the book hit home and made me realize how lucky, or unlucky, our ancestors were. A must read for all Filipino-Americans, young and old...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2005

    My Favorite Book

    This book is wonderful. I had to stop reading it while on the subway - I couldn't stop crying. It is a historical fiction that I pass on as a gift so others may have an inclination of our history. The Philippines was so much more than just a Spanish colony.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2005

    a must-read....

    WONDERFUL BOOK! i actually rate this six stars.... way past outstanding! this story made me feel so many emotions... it made me cry, laugh, *gasp*, and a LOT of other things. i highly recommend this. there are stories within this story, and they are so unbelievable. if you like touching, sweet, sad books, this one is for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2004

    a beautiful tale

    the first time i read this novel it was my senior year of high school and then i went and bought the book for my own collection. this story is one that will leave a lasting impression on the way you look at the world and its people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2004

    GREAT NOVEL

    This was an incredible reading experience due to the mesmerizing writing style the author exhibited. I loved this book and the numerous tales told within the story. This story is a must-read for anyone regardless of nationality because everyone can learn something from this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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