Book Review: The White Shoes by Grace Chong

3:50:00 PM

The White Shoes was written by Tita Grace Chong and illustrated by Sergio Bumatay III. Tita Grace signed my copy of this book with dedication during the National Children's Book Fair in Ateneo last July 15. She wrote "Black shoes are white shoes too". I reflected about her dedication and realized that it has a deeper meaning related to the experiences of the main character in her story and also to our lives. Black shoes represents all the challenges, the problems and trials that we face in our lives. White shoes represents the success and victories. Black shoes are white shoes too. We may view problems and trials as a sign of loss or defeat but actually these things are essential in life. The problems that we face teach us great lessons, it gives us the motivation to strive more and to become a better version of us and most especially challenges and it is in our weakness that we realize that we cannot do all things on our own. We need our family, our friends, loved ones and most especially, we need God. All successful and victorious persons, at some point of their lives, experienced defeat, loss, problems and trials but they never stopped striving until they achieved victory.

I like the cover photo of this book. I like the color and the manner of illustration. To me, it seems that the young Mrs. Cruz is so shy while holding her pair of white shoes. It is quite intriguing why she is sad and facing downwards. Also visible in the picture above is the seal of Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. This story deserves the prize! This is such an amazing and inspiring story!

The story starts with the children receiving their gifts from Mrs. Cruz. They are thankful for their gifts but they are not actually surprised with it. Because they all expect that all of the gifts are shoes. This particular child in the above picture received a shoes with wings. Cool! Reminded me of th shoes that Percy Jackson used in the movie. It allows him to fly. Hahaha. Mrs. Cruz gives only shoes as present on all occasions. While reading, you can easily guess that Mrs. Cruz did not have shoes when she is young, or she was not able to wear it because she has no feet. 

But when I turned to the next page, it turned out that Mrs. Cruz has feet. So she might have not experienced to wear shoes during her childhood, maybe because of poverty. As I read the story, I realized what really happened to Mrs. Cruz. I like the "shoe" car containing the gifts. Witty!

The eyes of Mrs. Cruz made her look so humble and sad at the same time. She is always facing downwards and this made her look so modest and soft-spoken. The Filipino word to describe how Mrs. Cruz looks like is "mahinhin".

Mrs. Cruz grew up in a poor family. His father is sick so her mother is the only one working for their family. His father is coughing terribly. I think his father have pneumonia or tuberculosis because of severe coughing. Since they are poor, they cannot afford to bring her father to the hospital for consultation. Her father is getting terribly ill because he is not getting the proper medications for his disease. Inang, Mrs. Cruz' mother, works as a laundrywoman. This is a noble and decent work. It saddens me when I hear stories of poor kids who are ashamed of their mother working as a laundrywoman. It is something to be proud of because their mother is doing everything to make both ends meet. Their mothers are doing their best to provide for their family and for the school expenses. I want to commend all the parents who work hard for their family. 

This reminded me of my own Tatay Rodil. My father is a jeepney driver. He leaves the house early in the morning and goes home late in the evening. I still remember the time when we (3 siblings) are all in college. My tatay has to work hard in order to send us to school. Praise God for the financial help of our aunts and uncles and my scholarship, we were able to finish college. My older brother is now working in a telecommunications company while I am studying medicine. I am so proud of my Tatay. He is the best father in the world. I can see a bright future ahead of us because our parents brought us up so well. My youngest sister is now on her fourth year. She's taking up BS Nutirtion and Dietetics. In less than a year, all us are already college graduate.

This is very inspiring. It shows how resourceful Filipinos are. Since she cannot afford to buy white shoes, which is the required footwear for the graduation, Eva painted her black shoes using white paint. She doesn't need to buy a new pair of white shoes! Very resourceful! She only borrowed her dress. That is why she keeps on pulling it downwards because the dress is a bit small for her. I am glad that Eva made it to the graduation day. She is one of the top students in her class.

This is where the tension started. It rained heavily and so the white shoes of Eva faded to black. The paint was washed away by the rain. Most of the students do not have umbrella including Eva that is why the white paint on her shoes faded away.

Her white shoes turned to black. She was so humiliated after this. (But actually I like the design of her shoes when the white paint started to wear off. It looks cool!) She felt so disappointed because she did not anticipate that it will rain that day and it will wash off the paint that she used. I felt so sorry for Eva. But this is a common scenario in the province. There are lots of poor students who cannot afford to buy the things they need for school. They cannot even buy their own school supplies. A lot of students walk several kilometers from their house to their schools. There are a lot of students/children in the provinces who do not even have slippers. This is true for those who live in remote areas in the Philippines. But I admire their dedication in studying. Despite all the challenges in their lives, they still persevere and continue their education. Same with Eva, she did not stop studying although they are very poor.

Eva graduated as one of the top students in her class. This proves that Eva is really dedicated and passionate in her studies. She is a bright student. Actually this is the main reason why she became successful in life. She is never discouraged by all the challenges and difficulties in her life. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". True enough, all of the challenges and hindrances Eva faced made her stronger and better person. It helped her to continue to her life and achieve her goals in life. She received scholarships and she worked while studying in college. She graduated college with honors and was able to get a job after. I can totally relate to Eva because I was able to finish my undergraduate degree in UP Diliman because of the scholarships that I received. I also worked as student assistant and tutor while studying to support my studies. Everything is possible! Poverty is never a hindrance to finish education.

I quote Eva's father, "Success is all about making the most of what you have been blessed with, and being thankful for it all".  We have to be thankful for all the things that we receive. We need to be content with what the Lord is blessing us. Let us always count our blessings. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). This is used in different context but I guess this can also apply in our lives. We can achieve our goals in life as long as it is aligned to the will of God. The Lord will help us to achieve all of our goals. He is faithful to grant the desires of our hearts. Let us not be discouraged by the challenges tossed to us. Let us take this as an opportunity to grow and to become better version of us. And once we become successful, like Eva, let us learn to give back. Let us not be selfish and let us share our blessing to other people. Since our success is from the Lord, let us share it to other people. Let us be an inspiration and blessing to other people. Great story!

I hope kids get to read this story book. They will learn a lot from this book. Happy reading guys!

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