American Son has ratings and 45 reviews. Rachelle said: Realistic and edgy portrayal. I know exactly what the two brother, Tomas and Gabe feel, and h. American Son is a novel that was written by American author Brian Ascalon Roley and published by W. W. Norton & Company Publishing in paperback format in. Tomas is the son who helps pay the mortgage by selling attack dogs to rich people .. Excerpted from American Son by Brian Ascalon Roley.

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Goodreads smerican you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. American Son by Brian Ascalon Roley. A powerful novel about ethnically fluid California, and the corrosive relationship between two Filipino brothers. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he skn in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities.

The narrator is A powerful novel about ethnically fluid California, and the corrosive relationship between two Filipino brothers. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas’s waywardness, yet moves ever briah to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs.

When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the americxn. Paperbackpages. Published May 17th by W. Norton Company first published March 17th Kiriyama Prize Nominee for Fiction To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about American Sonplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Mar 22, Amerivan Ayala rated it really liked it.

Realistic and edgy portrayal. I know exactly what the two brother, Tomas and Gabe feel, and had I been a boy, I would have run with the tough guys and gotten into the trouble that boys without fathers have. We were the foreign ones with the weird clothes and our mother was very much like Ameeican and G Realistic and edgy portrayal. We were the foreign ones with the weird clothes and our mother was very much like Tomas and Gabe’s mother.


I completely understood the Fedco scene and later on the scene at the pharmacy when the salesgirl amedican ignored their mother and acted like she was nonperson, the Asian mother who shies away from sales people and feels ignored brlan shunted aside, and people who look down on them with the broken English. My mother had a parking lot incident where a woman accused her of denting her car with a shopping cart, even though my mother was returning the cart to the holder and wasn’t near her car.

This woman hounded ascaln mother and followed her home haranguing her to just pay up. They feel they can pick on the older Asian woman who speaks broken English and scare her into paying. This story was very real for me growing eon in Los Angeles and the author’s descriptions are true, from the spindly rat infested palm trees to the smudgy plastic stackables from the smogthe hazy thick Marine layer, the thin strip of beach were the airplanes take off over, and the pavement filled with tar in the cracks rather than fixed.


The cultural landscape is also asclaon, at least for people over thirty. Maybe now, younger Filipinos have more pride and nationalism, but I have friends who have Filipino mothers, but are half white and they have btian eyes and light skin. Friends who claim they’re Italian or hang with Mexicans. And the word Flip, that’s what they used to say before Pinoy, even when referring to themselves.

I did get this story and enjoyed it. The brothers really did love their mother but showed it differently. Tomas with gifts and Gabe by being there.

And at the end, they stood up for her the only way they knew how, and even though the story had no real ending, it is realistic for literary fiction and I appreciate that the author did not foist an unrealistic sappy happy ending when life is not that way.

Jul 02, L rated it really liked it Shelves: Published inthe story centers around a struggling Filipino immigrant family in California. The two brothers and their mother do not often get along, and their various conflicts and difficult attempts to understand each other and their actions is a sad and sometimes frustrating endeavor.

It is a realistically rendered portrayal of coming of age and inner city life in the s. Gabe and Tomas’s mother, Ika, reacts differently than her sons to the Rokey world outside, secluding herself and hiding in her fears, whereas Tomas reacts destructively, wielding tire irons, fists, and pure hatred in his reaction to the outside world.

Gabe, as the protagonist, is the most frustrating of the characters in his sheer listlessness, which is rendered all too well by Roley, almost to the point where I was often turned off by the depiction.

He is often shrouded in silence, a complex character while awcalon the same time somewhat blank. Unwilling or maybe even unable to break through his shell, he endures the alienation of his mother and the bullying of his brother without attempting to confront either. Gabe clearly tries to give himself an identity as the good son and the good brother. His betrayal of himself and his mother with the truck driver was enough to make me cringe; I almost had to put the book down.

It is this vacillating protectiveness of their mother, however, that unites Gabe with his brother Tomas and hints at some small hope for both to acquire some of the gifts of paternity that America has to offer them sln American sons.


It, in fact, seems to be the only hope offered. Whether this is deliberate or not cannot be confirmed. This diasporic postcolonial immigrant tale is probably best read the second time around, when the various travails of the characters can be understood in hindsight.

Roley has created characters that I felt sorry for, but with whom Brain did not necessarily enjoy sharing company.

Jul 29, Camille rated it did not like it. I actually regret reading this book. While some portions of it resonated personally with me, as a second generation Filipino living in LA myself, that was definitely not enough to save this book.

The prose itself was poorly written and the characters that Roley creates are absolutely flat. Filipino culture lends itself to gestures and a willingly false surface life. The author failed to skillfully develop or expose any of the tensions that lay beneath the surface of the tenuous rel I actually regret reading this book. The author failed to skillfully develop or expose any of the tensions that lay beneath the surface of the tenuous relationships between Tomas, Gabe, and his mother.


Roley fails to even frame the conditions whereby we might at least sympathize with Gabe as an anti-hero. Even as an exercise in first person narrators, this was terrible.

Apr 07, Christa rated it liked it. Required reading for California Ethnic literature, Spring Oct 05, Susan rated it liked it. This is a book that spares no one. Every character has issues.

American Son | W. W. Norton & Company

It tells of a Filipino women who left her homeland to come to the USA hoping for a better life for roleey children. Her American husband divorces her and she works two jobs to make ends meet. The elder son turns into nasty piece of workviolent and vindictive.

He trains guard dogs and seems to have a good relationship with the dogsit’s ascaoln humans he is violent towards. He is a gang member without a gang. The younger son there is mor This is a book that spares no one.

AMERICAN SON by Brian Ascalon Roley | Kirkus Reviews

The younger son there is more hope for but he is pulled in all directions – big brother is horrible and controlling, other ineffective and struggling but he tries to help her, and other relatives who also put in their two penneth. The story is punctuated by the other’s brother in the Philippines who writes to her offering to have the boys “back home where they would learn respect and be disciplined properly”.

Altogether this was not a comfortable read though I did feel for the mother and the younger son struggling to cope with Thomas and his controlling violent anti social behaviour.

Mother especially struggles as his dog training and selling business helps pay the household bills. A very sad rad and a case of intelligent youth just wasting their lives through some sort of anger and resentment against society. Two Puerto Rican boys live in a bad part of town with their ex-pat mother who works two dead-end jobs trying to make a better life for her boys.

I come from an entirely different world but I have some resonance with these characters. Aug 04, Rebecca Lien rated it liked it Shelves: American Son was a really great book that invoked some interesting thoughts on race and identity.

I did like the book although it was a little slow and the writing lacked fitness. The themes out weighted the poor writing. I read this as apart of my Spanish class at Notre Dame University. Dec 17, Leslie Ann rated it liked it Shelves: I liked the book enough to finish it the short length helpsbut I will probably not follow this Fil-Am author.

His prose is very masculine, but not graceful: Roley is not Cormac McCarthy. Although I appreciated how Gabe and his family reflect some characteristics of Filipinos I know, they are pretty flat as characters and Gabe’s coming-of-age at the end is simultaneously predictable and underdeveloped.

Nov 11, Terri rated it did not like it. Grim, sad, violent, dark. Two brothers who seem to have no love for ascapon other. I did not enjoy this book. Oct 22, Heather Holmes rated it it was ok. While I appreciate how this text reveals sad truths about Filipino culture and gang violence. I found it lacking in plot and character development. May 25, Caroline rated it did not like it Shelves: