“Like a Solid to a Shadow,” by Janice Lobo Sapigao is a poetic compilation of Janice’s journey learning about her family and Filipina roots. Janice’s father left behind love letters recorded for her mother but had passed away when she was very young. Growing up in America, Janice created this book while mourning, learning, exploring, feeling, and reflecting on who she was without her father and what it means to be Filipinx for her. This collection was not just poems but it was also pieces of the family tree, social media messages, translations, pictures, and transcripts of the audio recordings. By the end, you learn that her father had another family and this is what you are left with; more wonder and more questions.
This book was like tuning into Janice’s mind for a few episodes of her experience thinking about what this book would be. Reading the short poems, reading her make meaning out of Ilokano words that she heard, processing the recordings her father left behind all felt like she was sitting across from me sorting it all out loud. In the beginning, as the reader you have no idea who she is or what this book is going to be about. Then with her, you start learning with her page by page who she is, where she comes from, and why she feels disconnected from her roots and father. Each page is another step in the exploration of the facts and reactions that come with them. Each page displays a sort of wound and heals it at the same time.
Janice challenges the reader to not look up words we do not know the translations to and to try to find meaning out of them based on the rest of the information. Doing so felt like I was searching with her for answers. This book was like a walk in the morning, when things are quiet and the city is waking up. Emotions started moving. Different voices awaken, calling for each other while the streets are still quiet. Emptiness and the desire to fill the space with something comfortable got louder. It was raw and authentically vulnerable to itself. This is a memorable piece for myself being a Filipina of Ilokano roots, also lost and reading to learn more about my roots. “Like a Solid to a Shadow ‘’ is a hidden gem of a piece to read if you want to experience the vastness of not having answers, exploring one’s roots, loss and grieving, dying languages, and healing.