Monday, November 30, 2015

World War II and the novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept #warnovels #wwii

On December 7, 1941 (December 8, Asian Time Zones), Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu.  Ten hours later, Japan launched an attack on the Philippines. 

My novel, When the Rainbow Goddess, chronicles the coming-of-age of  nine-year-old Yvonne during wartime in the Philippines. The novel garnered excellent book reviews from Booklist, Publishers' Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Kirkus Review, the Associated Press, and many others.

I'm reprinting the review by Associated Press, dated December 18, 1994: (you can see what a sorry state my copy is!):

Associated Press
Capsule Reviews:

When the Rainbow Goddess Wept by Cecilia Brainard is the tearful, seldom-told story of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II as seen through the eyes of a young Filipino girl. The many hardships that 9-year-old Yvonne Macaraig and her family are faced with teach her the value of hope and endurance.

From the beginning, the war deals Yvonne terrible losses. In order to evade the Japanese, Yvonne's family must leave their home in the city and go into hiding in the countryside. Yvonne is separated from her aunt and cousin, and her eccentric grandfather, Lolo Peping, is killed in the first attack on the city. While fleeing the Japanese, Yvonne's baby brother is born and tragically dies for lack of medical attention.

Yvonne's engineer father joins the guerilleros, a group of Filipino soldiers who are trying to defeat the Japanese invaders. For years Yvonne is forced to live in guerillero-held villages, constantly fearing for the safety of herself and her family. The war and the anguish that accompanies it forces Yvonne to group up quickly and to deal with the harsh practicalities of life while still struggling to maintain some of her childhood.

Laydan, Yvonne's friend and servant, tells her ancient stories of gods, goddesses and enchanted mortals. After Laydan passes away, Yvonne is able to keep hope alive among her war-torn friends and family by repeating the stories Laydan had taught her. Yvonne's favorite of these stories is that of the Rainbow Goddess, who always makes sure that after even the most terrible rainstorm, a beautiful rainbow will illuminate the sky.

Brainard's wonderful novel shows  how war brings out the best and the worst in people as it describes both the atrocities and the heroics that befall her characters. The novel's theme, the vast cost of war on the human spirit is illustrated well by Yvonne's tragic loss of innocence. In the words of her grandfather, Lolo Peping: "Before man sinned, he was innocent. Man's original sin wasn't eating the forbidden fruit; it was Cain's murder of his brother."  Associated Press, December 18, 1994


Here's some history of this first novel of mine.

It was first published in the Philippines as Song of Yvonne.  It was later picked up and renamed When the Rainbow Goddess Wept by Dutton/Penguin in hardcover and softcover.  A Turkish publisher, Bilge Kultur Sanat, 2001) did a Turkish edition. It remains in print under the imprint of Ann Arbor, a University of Michigan Press imprint.  It is also available in Kindle and Nook. Philippine Expressions carries the book, email:

There is an interesting YouTube Book Trailer of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept Theme, which I just discovered - check it out.

I also did a reading from this novel, although the quality isn't great - YouTube Reading from When the Rainbow Goddess Wept by Cecilia Brainard

During these times of conflict in many parts of the world, my novel could be the story of countless children and people who continue to experience the sufferings of wars.

Read also

LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW - Tuesday, November 15, 1994

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