Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery, by M. Evelina Galang, is a beautifully unique young adult novel, set in the Philippines. After her father dies and her mother moves to the U.S. to pursue the American dream, Angel has to come to grips with her new role as head of the family. As she settles into this new role, she comes to learn more about herself, her country, and what she believes in. She finds a place and a purpose, but before long her life is uprooted again when her mother sends for her to come and live in Chicago. Angel struggles in Chicago, with a new family, a new school, new friends, and even a new language. She acts out and expresses herself the only way she knows how–by playing the drums like her father taught her. She has to find who she is in America, and more importantly, she has to learn how to forgive.
Galang is a strong storyteller. She has created a heroine who is truly original and has given her the sort of life most people can hardly imagine. Angel is recognizable as an ordinary teen girl who makes mistakes, but is also a great role model; she is smart, responsible, and even involved in politics. The story is split into two sections (the first set in the Philippines and the second set in Chicago), and this abrupt setting change helps the reader and Angel herself discover her identity and what really matters in life.
Galang is a well known and highly respected Filipina-American, and she has written a contemporary young adult classic. While I felt that the story started off a little slow, it truly blossomed into the sort of story that makes you think and that sticks with you even after you’ve turned the last page!
Galang, M. Evelina. Angel De La Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2013.
Cover and book design by Linda S. Koutsky. Cover copyright Niki Escobar. Image from coffeehousepress.org.