Love Your Frenemies - Mina V. Esguerra
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
This review first appeared on my blog at Thoughts and Pens
Not counting my stash of Pinoy Pocketbooks, Love your Frenemies is my very first book read—after so many years—authored by a Filipino. I admit that I got so hooked with books written by international authors that I forgot to fully explore our local book market. Oh well, I have my eyes on Tagalog Pocketbooks. Anyway, I was really happy that I spared some time to snoop around Goodreads and discovered Mina Esguerra. And after reading a positive review (written by a fellow Filipina) for one of her books, I immediately decided that I have to try it. What’s more is that it gave me an idea to start a feature here on my blog which will be called Filipiniana Sunday.
Back to topic, Love Your Frenemies follows the story of Kimmy Domingo, a selfish bitch who after being jilted by her groom nine days before her supposed wedding, fled to the US to think things through and find herself. A year later, she came back to the Philippines to reclaim her old life. Despite her yearlong hiatus and soul searching, Kimmy was still a selfish bitch.
After I finished reading Love Your Frenemies, the first thought that came to mind was that this is not a romance story. Told through alternating flashbacks and present times, Love Your Frenemies is more about Kim’s self-discovery and her struggle to rise from the mess she’s in. Kimmy is not only confronted with lovelife issues but also with concerns pertaining to her relationship with friends and immediate family. How Mina managed to give this very short book a mesmerizing depth is beyond me. The romance in this book was kept to a bare minimum and I was glad that the story was able to progress without relying from the romance.
Although a very short read, the book didn’t fail to provide me a solid insight to Kimmy’s life, thus, making me understand her on a deeper level. One of the strongest points of this book is perhaps its ensemble of heavily flawed characters with Kimmy occupying the number 1 spot. As the story advanced, I felt my resolve to hate her weakening. I found myself slowly sympathizing with her. Kimmy is a mirror of thyself. I think selfishness is an intrinsic part of human nature and everyone shouldn’t have difficulty in stepping into Kimmy’s shoes. Aside from Kimmy, Mina was also able to bring to life the secondary characters of this book like Chesca and Manolo (I just wished that I’ve seen a lot of him in this book).
Mina’s writing was certainly fluid making it easy for me to navigate the whole story. The pacing was good and there wasn’t a single moment that I got bored. And when I thought that Mina would surprise me no more, I was instantly floored with the ending. That was just so good & so unexpected that I was on the verge of tears. Chesca and Manolo FTW!
Despite my enjoyment, I cannot set aside my feelings of frustration for this book. As I’ve said earlier, Love Your Frenemies is a very short book and clearly, I want more. :D In addition, there were powerful moments in this book that weren’t given the highlight they deserve. And the book ended with some things left loosely wrapped which are summarized below: (Warning: Don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled)
- Kim’s yearlong issue with Chesca was resolved in an unconvincing fashion and too easily.
- Manolo finally confessed his love for Kim but it wasn’t explained why, how and when he came to that realization.
- Kim’s issue with her mom was fixed but it was just implied in an ambiguous way.
- And last but not the least, Kim’s realization about her mistakes was mentioned rapidly that it made me ask myself: Has Kimmy really realized the depth of what she’d done?
To wrap this review, Love Your Frenemies is more than a feel good book; it’s a humbling story that would surely set the readers on a path towards finding one’s self in this complicated world.