Monica Macansantos’s Love and Other Rituals draws you into its wondrous collection of the Filipino diaspora stories while webbing each unique life and storyline together through the common theme of love. Whether it be about familial, nostalgic, friendly, romantic, or another type of love, Macansantos weaves even the most juxtaposed storylines together into a lovely larger collection.
When reading the stories, there is a great guide to the Filipino language used in the book under the section, “Notes on the Text”. I admired the ease in which Macansantos uses the Filipino language to supplement the setting, characters, and thematic presence of each of the stories. I especially loved that I could easily flip to this section and connect the word to its context and definition.
With the starting story, you get introduced through a child’s eyes to what love is— in regards to family. The collection of short stories continues and while not directly tied to each other through characters, builds upon themselves in a systematic and thematic based way.
While I expected throughout each short story for a small easter egg referring to the previous, I was never let down in the sense of thematic presence. The stories, while not, to my knowledge, overtly connected to each other, always subtly connect through the mirroring of time in life and the feeling of love.
I would definitely recommend you to read this collection. Each short story seems to drop you into the lives of vibrant characters, and have you leave as quickly as you entered. However, the length and subject matter of each story falls perfectly in place of the collection’s whole and each story’s unique plot.
Macansantos ensnares the reader into a world full of realistic and felt love (and other rituals). From child to adult growing pains, love turned to hate, ambivalence to love, and so forth, Love and Other Rituals does an amazing job at reaching through the feeling of love to show you the wondrous emotions and struggles of characters you’ll feel for.