Book Review from Publishers Weekly
"This coming-of-age story chronicling a Filipino boy's wrenching passage from son of privilege to guerilla fighter is a stylistic tour-de-force. From its first lines, the saga of Jando Flores seizes readers with the same chilling intensity as the cold water that wraps around Jando's chest as he hides in a river to escape a gang of pillaging cutthroats. While such murderous militias dispossess cane farmers in the Central Plains of the Philippines, the NPA (a brutal leftist insurgency) combats the government troops of Ferdinand Marcos and the ruthless sugar barons who steal the poor farmers' land. Jando, whose family owns a plantation, is forced into the NPA, but he remains a sensitive soul, brimming with empathy for his fellow countrymen-even as he watches others, like his beloved uncle, morph into fierce, sadistic killers.
Incandescent descriptions radiate from the pages of this book. When a wounded Jando wakes, after narrowly escaping a death squad, he sees "marmalade light slicing through the fronds, weaving orange and black tiger stripes." Mountain bandits, sugar warlords, Peace Corps volunteers, dignitaries, and revolutionaries all jostle beneath "mango-colored" skies in this riveting epic of loss and transformation, but it is a masterful and delicate choreography."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Tanaya and I never speak of those days anymore, those days of orchards and butterflies, of summer rains and typhoon clouds. The memories still haunt us, but they are faded now, like the pages of an old manuscript left out in the sun." A Light in the Cane Fields is ultimately a story about heart and perseverance. A look into the darker aspects of Philippine history, it strove to show how sides in a war aren't always so cut and dry. Jando is thrust into a world where brutality and discipline is the way of life, and he's forced to learn to adapt. His changing relationship with Maya was probably the most interesting relationship to develop within the pages. She was harsh and brutal, causing mental and physical anguish on a regular basis. It isn't until Jando spent more time with her that we began to see the actual person beneath all the rigid rules. The sensitivity she showed was good indication of how the people who were the villains weren't always the villains. The events Jando was forced to endure were hard to read at times. Seeing family murdered in such a brutal way, and then to be forced to live with the people that did it is something I can't fathom. And then to renounce his family only to accept the rebellion as his family... It still remained hopeful, though. I never felt as if Jando had no hope left, no reason to continue to keep living. I expected that, from a novel that deals with war-torn villages. Instead, I got the story of a boy who persevered through difficult odds and managed to come out of it a little stronger and a little better.