Two women, two cultures, and the fight to find a new life in America, despite the secrets of the past…
Banished by her wealthy Filipino family in Manila, Amparo Guerrero travels to Oakland, California, to forge a new life. Although her mother labels her life in exile a diminished one, Amparo believes her struggles are a small price to pay for freedom.
Like Amparo, Beverly Obejas—an impoverished Filipina waitress—forsakes Manila and comes to Oakland as a mail-order bride in search of a better life. Yet even in the land of plenty, Beverly fails to find the happiness and prosperity she envisioned.
As Amparo works to build the immigrant’s dream, she becomes entangled in the chaos of Beverly’s immigrant nightmare. Their unexpected collision forces them both to make terrible choices and confront a life-changing secret, but through it all they hold fast to family, in all its enduring and surprising transformations.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Like her main character, Marivi Soliven moved from the Philippines to California, where she now lives and works as an interpreter. Several of her short stories and essays from her 16 books have appeared in anthologies and she taught creative writing at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, the Ayala Museum and the University of California at San Diego. This is her first novel.
What People are Saying About This
“Writing with sensitivity and humor, Marivi Soliven creates a brilliantly detailed picture of Philippine life at home and in America in this panoramic story of one Manila family.”—Drusilla Campbell, author of When She Came Home
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Marivi Soliven has delivered an intriguing and captivating story in her debut novel, The Mango Bride. Amparo Guerrero and Beverly Obejas grew up together in Manila, yet their destiny of a meeting would not happen until years later and continents away from their Manila homeland. As young adults, both women move to California. Amparo, after falling from grace, is exiled to California at the behest of Senora Concha, her high society mother. Senora Concha’s current focus was rigid damage control toward protecting the prestigious Guerrero family name thanks to the antics of her only daughter. As far as she was concerned, this mission was far more important than repairing their broken relationship. Beverly, on the other hand, was on a quest to live the life and dreams her deceased mother had for her. Nanay Marcella is a vital link between the two women. To understand the connection, the reader must journey back to the beginning when Amparo was young, beautiful and doing what most young and privileged Filipino ladies did—languish in a life of pampering while adhering to strict guidelines of societal image and perception. Sadly, the only privilege Beverly had was to hold onto and embrace the dream her deceased mother had for her only child: a happy ending some day. Feigning the warnings of her mother and diving head-first into her first true love, Amparo meets handsome and mysterious Mateo Madrigal. By no means was their meeting formidable as Mateo had the proper pedigree. He too was born into a family of privileged stock and community stature. This romance, however, comes to a screeching halt when poor choices made are not easily undone. Senora Concha has no other choice than to banish her only daughter Amparo to Oakland, California where she will stay with her Uncle Aldo, Concha’s estranged brother. In no uncertain terms, she would stay there for as long as it took for the scandal to die down. Paralleling Amparo’s drastic changes, unbeknownst to Beverly, her mother’s dream for her was about to become a reality the day she ran into her childhood friend Lisa Patane. Unlike previous reunions, Lisa looked different this time—impeccably manicured and put together and currently arm in arm with a noticeably older, gray-haired man. It is when Lisa introduces American, Lydell Kinkade the “Third” of Naples, Florida and announces their engagement that Beverly listens a little more intently for details as to how this union happened. Lisa explains how she met Lydell through Filipina Sweetheart and began a pen pal relationship with him. In time, the once pen pals found true love in each other. She assured Beverly she could experience her own good fortune of the happily ever after she was promised if she took the same measures. All she had to do was sign with Filipina Sweetheart and in no time at all, she could be the next Mango Bride out of Manila and on her way to America. What Lisa failed to mention to Beverly was all of Filipina Sweetheart’s pen pals weren’t necessarily Lydell Kinkade clones. Marivi Soliven’s first novel is the essence of a natural tone and flow that makes me think if her novel were a song, it would be pitch perfect. This author portrays great devotion toward developing and delivering vibrant, credible characters. They are further enhanced and complemented with Ms. Soliven’s wonderfully descriptive quality and obvious knowledge of Manila’s culture and ambiance. She entices the reader throughout The Mango Bride with local information as she treats the reader to native language and deliciously descriptive cuisine in many scenes. Nowhere does this story drag. There is an element of inevitability with the ending, but it is delivered in a tender and bittersweet manner. Congratulations on your body of work Ms. Soliven—a most enjoyable read. Quill says: Marivi Soliven deserves positive accolades and recognition for this captivating and engaging first novel.
What is it about emigration and immigration that allows one person to maintain love for one’s heritage and adapt to one’s new environment while another is unable to let go of the past and finds the experience of a new country to be so harsh, even abominable? This is the central issue in The Mango Bride which is the story of several characters forced to leave the Philippines and live in Oakland, California in 1995. But the story is so, so much more. It begins with Marcela the cook/maid stabbing Senora Concha, the mother of Ampara and her brothers. There’s a sense of magical realism in the initial scene, with few clues to indicate why Marcela has snapped. But everyone in the family is cautious and careful and won’t even consider calling the police. She gets medical attention from her son, the dermatologist, and all seems forgotten as the story switches to Ampara whose mother made her emigrate to America for a shameful secret that no one is supposed to know but everyone does. Ampara’s point of view appears as she is a translator, taking care of her home and answering the telephone to do her job translating for police and social workers in Oakland. Chapters follow with Filipinos living in California, a viciously abused woman, a women who is carrying an unwanted pregnancy, and so many more tales. What is most striking about these suffering women is the loneliness of American life for them and their painfully raw nostalgia for their native home. Ampara tries to stay neutral but one story in particular sets off her own painfully poignant memories. When she meets her Uncle several times, a recovering alcohol holding his own secrets, he is reluctant to address the issues and secrets Ampara knows he is harboring. She has a solid relationship with a new boyfriend and wouldn’t consider leaving but her heart aches for her mother, no not Senora Concha but Marcela who acted as her “real” mother for some odd reason most of Ampara’s life. Marcela realizes she needs to catch up with connecting with her children but her fear of scandal is larger than her maternal instincts. We will later know why and the immense consequences of that secret. We also meet Beverly, a maid who is cousin to Ampara, who has her own awful story regarding her deceased mother and her present issues as the wife of a white man who treats her like a dog and will even try to ship her back home – for good! She is actually more of a central character than Ampara because Beverly’s story parallels the story of so many young Filipino woman in America. This notable novel almost defies description. Loyalty, family, gender roles, gender abuse, betrayal, revelation, repentance are just a few of the topics that these potent scenes address and which one appreciates as a sign of the immigrant and cultural experiences herein that one has never previously realized. If you, the reader, are not there, this book will amaze you; if you, the reader relate, there is comfort, truth and healing herein. Finely crafted novel and superb contemporary fiction, Marivi Soliven! Great read!