TITLE: When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
AUTHOR: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
REVIEW BY: Associated Press, December 18, 1994
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.
From the beginning, the war deals Yvonne terrible losses. In order to evade the Japanese, Yvonne’s family must leave their home in the city and go into hiding in the countryside. Yvonne is separated from her aunt and cousin, and her eccentric grandfather, Lolo Peping, is killed in the first attack on the city. While fleeing the Japanese, Yvonne’s baby brother is born and tragically dies for lack of medical attention.
Yvonne’s engineer father joins the guerilleros, a group of Filipino soldiers who are trying to defeat the Japanese invaders. For years Yvonne is forced to live in guerillero-held villages, constantly fearing for the safety of herself and her family. The war and the anguish that accompanies it forces Yvonne to group up quickly and to deal with the harsh practicalities of life while still struggling to maintain some of her childhood.
Laydan, Yvonne’s friend and servant, tells her ancient stories of gods, goddesses and enchanted mortals. After Laydan passes away, Yvonne is able to keep hope alive among her war-torn friends and family by repeating the stories Laydan had taught her. Yvonne’s favorite of these stories is that of the Rainbow Goddess, who always makes sure that after even the most terrible rainstorm, a beautiful rainbow will illuminate the sky.
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 spririt 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.”