From a Filipina expatriate now living in New York, a first novel that convincingly details life both in Marcos’s Manila and as an illegal immigrant in the US but offers a story that, ultimately, is more melodramatic than affecting. Only child Viola was curious to know the circumstances of her birth as she grew up in an affluent Manila household. By the time she learns the truth—that her mother had to get married’she’s not entirely surprised. Her father, a well-known womanizer, has had numerous mistresses; he’s also expanded the bookstore her mother inherited into a chain and a publishing house, using money invested by one of President Marcos’s cronies. Viola, meanwhile, attends a fashionable convent and has fashionable friends, but her mother’s unhappiness shadows her otherwise golden life. When her father moves in with his current mistress, who’s just given birth to a son, Viola’s mother announces that she’s leaving for New York. Feeling betrayed by her mother, and refusing to move to her father’s new house, Viola begins to run the old household on her own, takes part in the peaceful anti-Marcos demonstrations, eventually learns that her father is being indicted for bribery and corruption by the new Aquino government, and meets intriguing Caloy, who’s home from his American college. At the same time, her mother, fearing deportation from the US because her tourist visa has expired, is hard to reach, and though her letters sound upbeat, Viola worries. Once she’s in New York herself, she finds her fears justified: Her mother, a former society matron, is working as a maid, looks ill, and is terrified of the INS. Forgiving her for having left her behind in Manila, Viola convinces her to come home and forget the past. Spirited writing, but not enough to breathe true life into yet another story of yet another mother and daughter healing the obligatorily fractious relationship between them.