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In Different Countries, the plot explodes at once into different directions as it centers around the question of: Where in the world is Tiya Mercedes? The characters traversing the various spatial and temporal corridors of this maze finally converge a third of the way into the novel, in their search, literally for the missing aunt, and allegorically for some meaningful connection with someone or something. It is to the author’s great credit that she never loses sight of each of her characters’ inner life, even as she sets them into violent interaction with events and yes, issues.”
– From Dr. Rosario Lucero’s Foreword to the Philippine-published version of Different Countries.
Complicated, intricate, and subtly chained—this is perhaps one of the serious familial ties stories our group has ever read. The family relationships and the mystery of the disappearance of Tiya Mercedes is a medium to the understanding of the intricate relationships between family, even when the connection perhaps has been cut. Who knew that Nora and Katherine were actually related reading the story that has many many point-of-views (POV) our group found it interesting that despite the many POVs, the story is not made to romanticize any deal about familial relationships but rather report on what is reality.
The narrative was easy to follow and straight forward to my surprise. For someone who just started reading novels for quite some time, this is quite an interesting read for its brevity and conciseness. Novels do depend on the author. The author’s point is conveyed and I think the reality check is better conveyed when it’s concise. But perhaps the context of the story and the way it was written complements this case.
On the group’s personal level, we felt quite deeply sad for the relationships that were brought about by one man. His action and decisions have caused the story but at the same time, our group cannot help but feel disappointed by the women who were with him. Could a man’s decision just be the cause? We don’t think so, and perhaps the women that chose to allow the brokenness to happen contributed to this storyline. Teresa was a different story, yet her decisions paved way as well.
In conclusion, Different Countries will be a story for me to remember. As one of the first few novels I’ve read for the first time in a long time, Different Countries will be a memory of a tragic mistake of familial ties. Fate may have lead them to this story, but that fate was paved by a decision of a lifetime. David started this and ended unresolved. Sad, tragic, but that is reality.