Wander Girl

Wander Girl by Tweet Sering Wander Girl by Tweet Sering
Publisher: Flipside Publishing
Number of pages: 116
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

Twenty-something Hilda Gallares is having a hard time navigating life after college. She’s stuck in a bad relationship and a dead-end job in her family’s travel business. Obviously, this is not the life of travel, excitement, and sweep-you-off-your-feet romance that Hilda had always dreamed of.

But after a pregnancy scare where she imagines the kind of life she might be living before she’s even really LIVED, Hilda finally starts a journey to search for her ideal job, her ideal self, and her ideal man. Will she finally try her hand at being a writer, or will she slug it out as a clerk at the travel agency? And will it be the passionate French backpacker she met at Sagada or the earnest Brit she met at the bar? But more importantly, will Hilda’s wandering lead her where she really wants to be?

* * *

I read and enjoyed Tweet Sering’s non-fiction essay anthology, Astigirl, early this year, so I was on the lookout for the ebook release of her novel, Wander Girl. I believe this book has been published in print before but is now unavailable, so the ebook version was the best thing to come along, especially since I felt like I would like Tweet’s other writings.

And you know what, I was right.

Hilda Gallares is also stuck in her own rut right after graduating college. Stuck in a dead-end job and a seemingly dead-end relationship, she knows that her life is not the one she had dreamed of back in college. After a pregnancy scare, Hilda sets off and tries to find herself, her dream job and her ideal man…but the question is, is she doing it right? And will her wander girl tendencies lead her to where she really wants to be?

I read Wander Girl overnight, and I can’t really remember the circumstances that led me to reading it that fast, except maybe that I was in some kind of personal rut. I figured I needed to do my own soul searching and also escape (it’s a paradox, but I think some of you will get it), so what better way to do that than to look for good local chick lit, right? Chick lit is about a woman finding herself, right? The book is written in a book format — meaning we are reading a book written by Hilda herself, not just the Wander Girl novel. I don’t know about others, but this made me enjoy the book immensely because it feels like I am actually reading something a fictional character wrote. Here we get a glimpse of Hilda’s family and her friends, which sets up the entire stage for her story to unfold.

I liked Hilda from the start, but I honestly don’t think I see myself in her. Okay, I see a bit of myself, but I think Hilda is just a little wilder than I am, which is saying a lot, since Hilda never really considered herself wild. But I liked her, she’s such a likable character. Her friends and family are definite characters too that I just really liked reading about them. Also, everything Hilda goes through is so fitting for those who are experiencing quarter-life crisis. While the experiences may not be similar, I thought Tweet Sering captured the despair and the feeling of wanting to do something meaningful in one’s life perfectly. I could change a few details in Hilda’s story and it could be my story just as easily.

I also liked how Filipino this book was, not just with the injection of Filipino words and expressions (a glossary is provided in the ebook copy), but with the values and themes it discussed: leaving home to live alone (not really something people would do here), family matters and even religion. I especially liked how religion and settling down factored in the story, and laughed so much at that particular scene where Hilda just breaks down and acknowledges this. You’ll have to read it to believe it. Hee. All the laughter!

I really, really enjoyed Wander Girl, and in a way, it gave me hope for my quarter-life woes. Like I said, there’s nothing like theright chick lit to cure me of some QLC. I especially liked this final quote (not spoilery, don’t worry!):

Because the best thing about wandering off, I have found, is coming home.

I don’t think I’m really wandering off, but I can say that I’m my own wander girl in a different sense. I think we all are. :)

I don’t know if Tweet Sering is writing another novel, but if she is, I will definitely read it when it comes out. If I may request — a spin-off for Hannah, the youngest Gallares sister? I feel like she needs a story of her own. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:

Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living on Her Own Terms

Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living on Her Own TermsAstigirl: A Grown Girl Living On Her Own Terms by Tweet Sering
Publisher: Flipside Publishing
Number of pages: 156
My copy: ebook, review copy from publisher. Thank you! :)

Far from the grownup she thought she would be, Tweet Sering, 30-plus and tormented by a raging discontent with stale notions of how one must live, strips herself of the trappings of adulthood—no job, no savings, no insurance, and not even a credit card—and resolves to begin growing up again.

In this memoir that is by turns sharply funny, intelligent, outspoken, but also pained and bewildered, Tweet shows her readers how being astray can turn into being astig (tough). Her essays remind us of long, late-night chats with our favorite friend, so that the substance of the go-for-broke account of her journey is not muddled by easy sentiment, but shines with a desire to cheer us on into our own journeys of being a tough girl. An Astigirl.

* * *

When the new year rolled around, I was more than ready to start a new book, eager to start filling my 2012 shelf. However, it felt like the books I was starting weren’t really making the cut. I couldn’t really get into it. It may have been just some kind of New Year blues or something — I don’t know. I received Astigirl as a review copy from Flipside on the first day of work and was all set to read it later in the month. Until decided to take a peek at it after work…and I could not put it down.

Astigirl: A Grown Girl Living On Her Own Terms is Tweet Sering’s account of how she turned into her own kind of tough girl. Tweet talks about a range of things: from a fan letter to Angelina Jolie, to a family discussion on whether Manny Pacquiao’s politics, to how she let go of her finances, to how she decided to drop everything to follow her dream. She talks about serious things about a man she loves and her art, and how she was asked to write her grandmother’s biography to seemingly not-so-serious things such as how she wants to strangle Bella and kick Edward as she read New Moon. With a warm, personal tone akin to a friend sharing her experiences to another, Tweet Sering makes her readers feel that if she can do it, then we can, too.

Ah. That almost slump I had was instantly gone after I read the first entry in this book. Astigirl is the perfect book to read for the new year. It’s got all this freshness and honesty that no other fiction book can offer. I thought it would be all about the kind of toughness that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate or relate to, but I was wrong. Think of this as sort of a Filipino version of Eat Pray Love, but less of the annoying over-privileged “I have money to travel all over the world” feel. In fact, Tweet talked about how she didn’t really feel a strong attachment to money, something I know I had to learn.

I was kind of glad I read this on my Kindle because it makes it easy to highlight quotes. Believe me, when I got to the middle, I realized I was highlighting almost every other page. Maybe it was because of the new year, or maybe it was because Tweet Sering talks about things that every young Filipino woman is thinking but is too confused or too afraid to set out for: to do something meaningful. I would share with you my favorite quotes but they’re too many of them, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself. :)

Being nonfiction meant not everyone will agree with this, but it also means that it can be read again and deliver a different message altogether. Astigirl is a great book to start the year with, and I think it would also make the perfect gift for girlfriends and girl friends. I don’t necessarily agree with everything and I thought some of the entries were a bit long, but I really enjoyed the book and I would definitely browse through it again.

So, if you’re a Filipino woman in your 20’s or 30’s and if you’re feeling a little beat from life or you need a little inspiration, get Astigirl by Tweet Sering. It will do you a lot of good, and hopefully, it will also give you that push you need to go after what you need to do to be your own Astigirl.

Rating: [rating=4]

Buy a copy: Flipreads | Amazon