Patron Saints of Nothing Summary & Study Guide

Randy Ribay
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Patron Saints of Nothing Summary & Study Guide Description

Patron Saints of Nothing Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay.

The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Ribay, Randy. Patron Saints of Nothing. New York: Kokila, 2019.

In the young adult novel Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, Jason “Jay” Reguero is on track to start college in the fall, the path to success that has been mapped out by others, when he learns that his cousin, Jun, who lives in the Philippines has been killed. Jay receives little information about Jun’s death from his parents, besides the fact that Jun was killed as part of the war on drugs in the Philippines. Tragically, this war allows anyone who used or sold drugs to be murdered by police with no questions asked. Jay travels to his home country with the intent of learning what really happened to Jun, a friend whom Jay could not imaging having used drugs. Jay learns not only the truth about Jun, but he also a learns a lot about himself.

Although Jay’s family lives in Michigan, Jay was born in the Philippines and lived the first year of his life there. He remembers the last time he and his family visited his grandparents in the Philippines. A litter of puppies had just been born, but their mother would not take care of them. Jay tried to feed the only puppy that was still alive but it died despite his efforts. The other Filipino adults did not understand Jay’s grief. Jun, however, comforted Jay, telling him that he was sad as well. The boys were best friends and wrote letters back and forth even though they did not see one another again.

As a 17-year-old, Jay is thinking about applying to college. Jay thinks about Jun and wishes he could talk to him directly. He remembers how he did not answer the last letter that Jun wrote to him. Jun had written to Jay that he would not bother him again if he did not respond. Since that time, Jun had run away from home, and Jay did not know where to send a letter. Coincidentally, the next day, Jay’s father informs Jay that Jun is dead. He will not say exactly what happened, only that Jun’s father, Maning, will not allow there to be a funeral. Jay’s mother tells him later that Jun was killed as a result of the war on drugs in the Philippines. Jay does not believe that Jun used or sold drugs. He persuades his parents to let him visit the Philippines during his spring break.

Jay's uncle, Maning, is a high-ranking official in the police department. Maning did not appear to care about Jun, because he regularly criticized Jun. Jay theorizes that Maning may have had something to do with Jun’s death. While Jay is staying with his uncle, he finds a list of drug dealers in Maning’s desk drawer.The list that includes Jun’s name. Jun’s new friend, Mia, interprets the Tagalog message on the list from one of Maning's subordinate officers. That officer indicates that he has found Jun and wants to know how Maning wants him to proceed. Jun suspects that Maning ordered that officer to kill Jun.

Jay finally confronts Maning about Jun’s death. Maning claims that he found drugs in Jun’s room and gave him the choice to give up drugs or leave. Because Jay questioned Maning about Jay’s death, Maning says that he is no longer welcome there and sends Jay to his aunt Chato’s house. Chato tells Jay that Jun came to stay with her for a year after his father kicked him out. Meanwhile, Mia helps to connect Jay to a girl named Reyna, the girl with whom Jun lived for two years after he left Chato’s house.

During his visit to the Philippines, Jay has also grown closer to Grace, who Maning’s oldest daughter and Jun’s sister. He learns that it was Grace who sent him an anonymous Instagram message telling him that Jun had done nothing to warrant his murder, hoping to lure Jay to the Philippines. She wanted to know if he really cared about Jun. Grace joins Jay in his quest to find out what happened to Jun when they are together at their grandparents’ home. Jay confronts Maning again about what happened to Jun. This time Grace stands next to him. Maning again insists that he did not have Jun killed, and that Jun was doing drugs. He tells them to ask their uncle, Danilo, if they do not believe him.

Jay and Grace travel secretly the next morning to the city in which Danilo’s church is located. Danilo tells them that Maning had contacted him three months before Jun died, asking Danilo to help him save his son. Danilo searched for Jun but was unable to find him. One day, not long before Jun was killed, Jun showed up at Danilo’s church. He was addicted to drugs and was also selling drugs. Jay could tell by the sadness on Danilo’s face that he was telling the truth. Jun refused to stay with Danilo or let anyone help him. Jay struggles to reconcile the memories that he has of Jun (a happy person who was full of love and the desire to help others) with the image of him using drugs. Jay realizes how unjust the war on drugs is, as it treats drug addicts as enemies rather than the victims they truly are. Grace explains that just because Jun used drugs did not mean that he was useless or no good. It did not change what they knew to be true about him, that he was a good person.

Back at Jay and Grace’s grandparents’ house, they ask permission to have a private memorial service for Jun. Maning does not refuse to allow it but he does not attend. Later in the service, however, Jay notices Maning has come outside and is listening from a distance. When Ami, Jun’s mother, goes forward to honor her son’s memory, Maning joins her.

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