When Writing Morphs into a Lifetime: A Novel
by Myrna Lou Jastra

"Were it not for the power of the written word, the world of Lor and Ermin would never have commenced."

The love story of Lor and Ermin unfolds against the backdrop of post-World War II in the Philippines. Lor, an aspiring writer, meets Ermin when he writes to her and requests that she submit an article to be included in his all all-boys military academy publication. The year is 1948, and Lor has been actively writing for her own college newspaper. This correspondence starts a relationship that is tentative at first as career ambitions and trajectories threaten to keep the two from being together. Lor is hired as the first female journalist of the Manila Daily Bulletin in 1949, and Ermin pursues a military career. Then, when Lor is accepted into a graduate program in Michigan, she is prepared to choose her career and ambitions over love and family. But Ermin is persistent in his hopes for marriage. Lor must decide.

As a deeper exploration of Lor’s choice is lacking, her sudden marriage is surprising as the novel hurtles forward to the second half of the couple’s life together. This timeless story of a woman balancing love, career, and motherhood in the 1950s and 60s also incorporates elements of the immigrant experience as well as an insightful history of the Philippines. Lor’s move to the United States in 1960 to begin graduate school with three kids in tow shifts the story to issues of equality, education, and freedom.

The thread running through the novel is Lor’s life as a writer. This continuity develops strong characters and a satisfying story. At times, the unusual word choice and faulty sentence structure of the narrative can be confusing, but the determination of Lor and Ermin to build a life that satisfies them both drives this powerful, character-driven story.

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