Summary and book reviews of A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves

One Family and Migration in the 21st Century

by Jason DeParle

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle X
A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2020, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Herschbach
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About this Book

Book Summary

The definitive chronicle of our new age of global migration, told through the multi-generational saga of a Filipino family, by a veteran New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

When Jason DeParle moved in with Tita Comodas and her family in the Manila slums thirty years ago, he didn't expect to make lifelong friends. Nor did he expect to spend decades reporting on Tita, her husband, siblings, and children, as they came to embody the stunning rise of global migration. In his new book, DeParle paints an intimate portrait of an unforgettable family across three generations that dramatizes how the international movement of labor has reordered economics, politics, and culture across the world. At the heart of the story is Rosalie, Tita's middle child, who escapes poverty by becoming a nurse, and lands jobs in Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and, finally, Texas--joining the record forty-four million immigrants in the United States.

Migration touches every aspect of global life. It pumps billions in remittances into poor villages, fuels Western populism, powers Silicon Valley, sustains American health care, and brings one hundred languages to the Des Moines public schools. One in four children in the United States is an immigrant or the child of one. With no issue in American life so polarizing, DeParle expertly weaves between the personal and panoramic perspectives. Reunited with their children after years apart, Rosalie and her husband struggle to be parents, as their children try to find their place in a place they don't know. Ordinary and extraordinary at once, their journey is a twenty-first-century classic, rendered in gripping detail.

PROLOGUE
Finding Jesus in the Slums

Thirty years ago, I was a young reporter in Manila with an interest in shantytowns, the warrens of scrap-wood shacks that covered a third of the city and much of the developing world. I called the Philippines's most famous nun, who lived in a slum called Leveriza. Though I didn't say so, I was hoping she would help me move in.

Sister Christine Tan was a friend of the new president, Cory Aquino, and busy on commission rewriting the constitution.

"Call me back a few months," she snapped.

Hoping for a quicker audience, I explained that I worked with another nun in her order. Apparently, they weren't friends. "That's a mistake!" she said. "Meet me tomorrow morning, outside the Manila Zoo."

Raised in affluence, educated in the United States, Sister Christine had gained her renown as a critic of Ferdinand Marcos, the American backed dictator who had proclaimed martial law in 1972 and plundered the country with the help of his shoe-happy wife, Imelda. "I ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

DeParle is a good storyteller, and A Good Provider is an absorbing read. The personal journeys of Tita, Emet, Rosalie, and other family members—fleshed out in rich detail—are seamlessly integrated into broad reflections on the history, controversies, and debates surrounding immigration worldwide...continued

Full Review (881 words).

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(Reviewed by Elisabeth Herschbach).

Media Reviews

Minneapolis Star Tribune
[An] ambitious and successful book . . . DeParle has a frank, amiable and plain-spoken virtuosity as a writer.

The National Book Review
DeParle humanizes the politics of migration and the powerful forces of assimilation...immigration may be a hot button issue today, but in his profoundly wise, insightful, and eloquent book, DeParle goes behind sloganeering and conveys the vast and tangled obstacle course navigated by those who dream of lifting their families out of poverty

The New York Times
A sweeping, deeply reported tale of international migration that hopscotches from the Philippines through the Middle East, Europe and eventually the United States . . . DeParle’s understanding of migration is refreshingly cleareyed and nuanced.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
This years-in-the-making, panoramic story follows the Portagana family from the slums of Manila across four continents. A humane epic of real people in search of better lives.

The Washington Post
DeParle’s examination of how the two daughters adapt to U.S. elementary schools, seeking to become more all-American than the Americans, even as their parents find solace in Texas’s Filipino immigrant networks, is a minor classic of the assimilation experience....The book is packed with insights

The Boston Globe
A remarkable book . . . DeParle offers us a brisk history of immigration and immigration policy and wise reflections on contemporary migration.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
DeParle excels in both intimate details and sweeping scale...This well-crafted story personalizes the questions and trends surrounding global migration in moving and thought-provoking fashion.

Library Journal (starred review)
DeParle delivers a remarkably creative, enlightening, and empathetic book about international migration's personal and public impact…[a] well-informed analysis, of immigration's history, benefits, and downsides, demonstrating his mastery of the subject.

Booklist (starred review)
A remarkably intimate look at migration's impact on both a single family and the global community.

Author Blurb Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted
No matter your politics or home country this will change how you think about the movement of people between poor and rich countries...one of the best books on immigration written in a generation.

Author Blurb Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World
A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves is an exceptional accomplishment: sweeping, vivid and complicated in all the right ways. Just when we are about to lose hope, there is a moment of beauty or humor or grace that saves us from despair.

Author Blurb Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
It's hard to imagine a book better timed; after decades of work, Jason DeParle delivers this masterpiece of reporting and insight at precisely the moment when America is making the most basic decisions about immigration. His storytelling is so vivid, granular and alive that, once you've read it, immigration can never be a bumper-sticker controversy again. An American classic.

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Beyond the Book

Migration, Labor, and the Philippines

As a young teen in the Manila slums, Rosalie, the central figure in Jason DeParle's A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves, dreamed of a path out of poverty. "Nursing, that's my choice to help and curing sickness," she wrote to DeParle. "And to earn money and go abroad."

When Rosalie scored her first overseas job almost a decade later—at a hospital in Saudi Arabia—she became just one of an estimated 10 million Filipinos who work abroad. As DeParle explains, no country promotes overseas work as heavily as the Philippines. The government facilitates oversea placements, marketing its workers to other nations. And a vast industry of vocational schools and training institutes has sprung up to channel thousands of hopeful graduates ...

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