cover image When the Rainbow Goddess Wept

When the Rainbow Goddess Wept

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. Dutton Books, $19.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93821-7

Yvonne Macaraig is an exuberant and mischievous nine-year-old when the Japanese invade her Philippine homeland in 1941, and so she begins her grim story of endurance and survival with a spirit of adventure and optimism. Her father, Nando, an American-trained engineer who's invaluable to the guerrilla movement, is often called away as Yvonne, her mother and a small family entourage flee toward presumed safety ever deeper in the jungle. Yvonne witnesses scenes of incredible carnage and silently notes the slow decline in her mother's health, but her spirits are buoyed by the Philippine folktales narrated to her by the family cook. These myths and legends, violent and colorful, extol the gallantry of ancient warrior kings or show the triumph of love and valor over subjugation. In simple yet deeply moving prose, Brainard's first novel presents similar acts of monumental courage: a doctor's sacrifice in the jungle; quiet defiance against terrorist threats. Gradually, Nando and his companions become aware that the U.S. is capable of betraying them-and that Philippine independence is a necessity. The strengthening of the national spirit; the loss of innocence in two generations-these themes are explored by the author, who was born in the Philippines, with persuasive conviction and stark realism. (Sept.)