Reviews for A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century

by Jason DeParle

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A powerful examination of one of the day's most important topics: global migration.In many ways, the latest from New York Times reporter DeParle (American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare, 2004), a George Polk Award winner, is a summary effort of the past three decades of his core research that began in the Philippines when he was a much younger reporter launching his career. Some of the close relationships he forged during his time there became lifelong friendshipsand helped lead to this crucial and timely volume about the increasingly explosive and controversial phenomenon of global migration. Three decades ago, when the author was reporting on the poverty of the shantytowns of Manila, he met Tita Comodas, who reluctantly took him in as a boarder. Unable to provide for his family, Emet, Tita's husband, was forced to take a job abroad in Saudi Arabia, and he spent the next 20 years living far from his loved ones in order to send remittances home and afford his children a higher standard of life. Identifying the book's title as the family mantra, DeParle focuses on their daughter, Rosalie, then a 15-year-old studying nursing. He follows her through the years as she graduated and took nursing jobs abroad, eventually arriving in Galveston, Texas, and her own lifelong dream fulfilled: a job in the U.S. Moving in and out of the narrative of Rosalie's journey, the author chronicles her daily struggles, tying them to the bigger picture of migration movements and globalism as well as the economic, political, and cultural particulars of immigration in North America. DeParle also weighs in on immigration in the European Union while expanding on the economic effects of family remittances on a national and global scale. Giving a human face to the issue of immigration, the author does a great service to his readers and his subjects.A gorgeously written, uniquely insightful, and evenly critical volume that hits every talking point on immigration today. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In 1987, journalist DeParle (American Dream, 2004) moved in with Tita Comodas' family in a slum in Manila while reporting on poverty. The author and his host quickly became friends, and over the following three decades, he observed the family as they exemplified the flow of global migration in the late twentieth century. All of Tita's five children worked abroad in the Middle East and the U.S., sending remittances home to the Philippines that allowed the family to move into the middle class. DeParle follows Rosalie in particular, whose drive to work as a nurse in the U.S. takes her through Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and finally to Galveston, Texas. Setting the family's story within the political and social context of twentieth- and twenty-first-century immigration, the author explores the Philippine government's commitment to Overseas Filipino Workers, hailed as heroes for the nation's economy. He also dives into the personal strains caused by leaving, such as long separations from spouses and children, shifting gender dynamics, and culture changes. This is a remarkably intimate look at migration's impact on both a single family and the global community.--Laura Chanoux Copyright 2019 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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In this captivating story, journalist DeParle (American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare) follows three generations of a Filipino family whose lives have been profoundly shaped by migration. The book begins in a shantytown in Manila in the 1980s, where the reader meets Tita and Emet Comodas, who spent nearly 20 years of their married life apart as Emet “tried his luck” in the Middle East to lift them out of poverty and send their daughter Rosalie (born in 1971) to nursing school. Rosalie, in turn, became an overseas worker—in the Middle East and then Texas—and married one; their three children were initially raised mostly by the family in Manila. As the family is reunited in Texas in 2012, when the children are 5, 7, and 9, the narrative shifts to encompass their adjustment to a new country and to living with their parents. DeParle excels in both intimate details and sweeping scale, showing how the Comodases’ experiences illuminate broader phenomena, such as the feminization of migration, technology’s impact on assimilation and the maintenance of far-flung networks, and the role that overseas remittance plays in quality of life in former colonies. The book also ably relates the politics of immigration starting in the 1960s. This well-crafted story personalizes the questions and trends surrounding global migration in moving and thought-provoking fashion. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff and Verrill. (Aug.)

Library Journal
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New York Times journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist DeParle (American Dream) delivers a remarkably creative, enlightening, and empathetic book about international migration's personal and public impact. The author makes no pretense of objectivity, having lived with and learned from members of an extended Filipino family as they become part of global migration. The story revolves around Rosalie Portagana, who becomes a nurse and moves within a generation from a Manila shantytown to a suburban home near Galveston, TX. As DeParle weaves the account of Rosalie and her relatives, readers also become familiar with the broader patterns of international migration. In pursuit of low-wage jobs in the Middle East, East Asia, and North America, members of Rosalie's family effectively commuted across parts of the world as computers enabled them to stay in touch and share disappointment, encouragement, and successes. DeParle describes the strength of people who migrate in hopes for a better life. But he also deftly contextualizes these human specifics within a broader, well-informed analysis of immigration's history, benefits, and downsides, demonstrating his mastery of the subject. VERDICT Readers interested in the human and historical aspects of immigration will find this book extremely useful and insightful. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]—Charles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato