When the Rainbow Goddess Wept

When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
University of Michigan Press, 1999, softcover, 216 pages, ISBN 0472086375

Available from University of Michigan Press https://www.press.umich.edu/9183/when_the_rainbow_goddess_wept

Available in Kindle

When the Rainbow Goddess Wept is Cecilia’s acclaimed first novel about a coming age of a young girl in the Philippines during World War Two. First published in the Philippines as Song of Yvonne, it was picked up by Dutton/Penguin in 1994. A Plume paperback edition was published in 1995. A Turkish Edition, Gokkusagi Tanricasi Agladigunda (translated by Fusun Talay), was published by Bilge Kultur Sanat in 2001.

The US edition of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept is currently published by the University of Michigan Press, and the Philippine edition is forthcoming by The University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

"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 … 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)

"Interweaves realistic events with myths of women fighters and goddesses, as well as fantastic dreams ... Brainard's appealing characters are larger than life, people who change before our eyes, yet remain utterly convincing ... A fast-paced, sensitively written first novel." (Kirkus Reviews)

"The strengthening of the national spirit; the loss of innocence in two generations - these themes are explored by the author, who was born in the Philippines, with persuasive conviction and stark realism." (Publishers Weekly)

"Stories of war are perhaps most compelling when told through the eyes of children, whose innocence is always so tragically incongruous to the adult madness that rages around them. When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, a first novel by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard that chronicles the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II, is no exception." (Los Angeles Times)

"Enchanting throughout, this novel will mesmerize the reader right up until its victorious ending." (Booklist)


Book Reviews
Booklist, September 1, 1994

Kirkus Review, July 1, 1994

Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1994

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1994

Associated Press, December 18, 1994


Summary of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard.

University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor Michigan: 1999

"We had all experienced a story that needed to be told, that needed never to be forgotten." (216)

When the Rainbow Goddess Wept is this story - the story of not only Yvonne Macaraig and her family during WWII; but also the larger story of the Filipino people and their wartime bravery - all seen through the young eyes of Yvonne. Before the war, Yvonne's life was ideal. Her cousin Esperanza was also her best friend; the family cook, Laydan, told her the most amazing stories about Filipino warrior women, and she adored her father, an engineering professor. This ideal life is soon torn asunder when the Japanese invade the Philippines and Yvonne and her family flee to the relative safety of the countryside. Yvonne is devastated when her whole family does not stay together, as her aunt, cousin, and grandfather stay behind in Ubec. Yvonne and her family retreat further and further into the countryside as they try desperately to stay at least one step ahead of the Japanese. Yvonne, in order to deal with the wartime horrors that surround her, clings to Laydan and those stories she tells from Filipino folklore about the warrior women. These stories give Yvonne the courage she needs to face the losses that war brings to her family and to her country. Yvonne, like the Philippines itself, emerges stronger for her trials in this unique coming of age story.
Discussion Questions:When the Rainbow Goddess Wept

1. What is the effect of the story being told from the perspective of a child? How would it be different if an adult served as the narrator?

2. Why do the traditional legends and stories mean so much to Yvonne?

3. What is the role of women in Filipino society at this time? How do the main female characters fulfill and defy societal expectations?

4. What parts do religion, superstitions and faith play in the lives of the Filipinos in the story?

5. How would you describe the various characters’ attitudes toward America and Americans? Do these opinions change as the war continues?

6. In what ways were Yvonne’s and her family’s wartime experience similar to what others in different countries experienced during WWII? In what ways was the Filipinos’ experience during the war unique?

7. How are Yvonne and her family changed by the war? How is the Philippines?

8. Does the book leave the reader with a sense of hope, despite all the hardships that the characters had to endure?

9. Why did the author choose the myth of the Rainbow Goddess for the title of her book?

10. Why is it important for a culture to preserve its legends and traditional stories?