Jessica Hagedorn, The Gangster of Love

9 11 2009

Why did the Filipino cross the road?

Because he thought America was on the other side.

In my Asian American lit class we are reading this book called The Gangster of Love, by a Filipino writer named Jessica Hagedorn. This book is about a girl named Raquel (Rocky) Rivera, her mother Milagros and her brother Voltaire who move from the Philippines to America at the age of fifteen years old. She grows up in San Francisco in the 1960’s where she meets her extravagant best friend Keiko and her Chinese-American boyfriend Elvis. While her brother Voltaire hates his life in America, Rocky eventually decides to move away from her home in San Francisco to live with her boyfriend in New York. In New York she and her boyfriend start a band called The Gangster of Love. Her life in a band exposes her to different experiences with sex and drugs. From these experiments and all the different people that she meets she is fueled to explore herself as she tries to discover her identity as a Filipino and also as an American. Growing up in America makes her question her Filipino identity and it is not until the end of the book where she finally decides to go back to the Philippines and reconnect with her father and the rest of her family back in the Philippines.

It is definitely a must read book that us as Filipino-Americans and other people of different ethnicities would enjoy and could relate to.

~Nicole Pagusara

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