Review of My Heart Underwater

My Heart Underwater
by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
High School    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    320 pp.    g
10/20    978-0-06-297228-6    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-297230-9    $9.99

After seventeen-year-old Cory’s mother witnesses a kiss between her and her long-term substitute teacher, twenty-five-year-old Ms. Holden, she sends Cory to spend two months in Quezon City in the Philippines with her half-brother, a brooding engineering student and amateur musician. Cory — also dealing with the fact that her father back in California is in a coma — must navigate Kuya Jun’s stiff presence, meet her cruel and unforgiving grandfather, and maintain balance between two worlds as a FilAm, a Filipina American. But amid the unfamiliar customs, Taglish vocabulary, and rhythm of a new city, Cory finds acceptance in the most unexpected places. As Kuya Jun says, “Love is weird. But it’ll find you again. The right kind, next time. Let it be. Give it time.” His comforting words turn out to apply to many complicated relationships in Cory’s life, including a new romantic interest. Fantauzzo’s emotional story extends beyond Cory’s search for identity and belonging, adding insights about both historical and metaphorical colonization, while readers are immersed in the uncertainty that surrounds new and ongoing family crises, resentment, and forgiveness.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Gabi K. Huesca

Gabi K. Huesca is a library associate at the DC Public Library in Washington, DC. She is a Master's of Library and Information Science student at the University of Maryland.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more