A Richmond author hopes his recently published novel can help youth tackle present life issues.
John Marasigan, also known by his pseudonym Juan Cenon Marasigan, found teaching biology and psychology defined most of his life prior to becoming a novelist.
Teaching in various institutions such as the University of British Columbia and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) allowed him to share important values with young adults who were “moulding their life.”
When Marasigan retired from KPU in 2016, he jumped at the chance to take a course for novel writing after always having been “fascinated” by the skills of novelists.
“I opted for (a) program to write for young adults,” said Marasigan, adding his first assignment was to describe two book ideas.
Of the two ideas, Juanita, Freedom Seeker became the main story that focused more on young adults.
The protagonist of his novel, Juanita, is named after the nanny who took care of him and his eight siblings when he was growing up in the Philippines.
“I named the protagonist of my first novel after our nanny as gratitude for her life-long service to my family,” said Marasigan, adding he felt grief-stricken when he wasn’t able to say his last thank you and goodbye - because he was studying abroad - before she passed away.
The story follows 16-year-old Juanita who grows up in a family of seven children with a dream to free her family from poverty.
When rich clients of her mother’s cleaning company lose their only daughter, they offer to raise Juanita as their own and help her family move into a better neighbourhood.
She struggles between living a comfortable life and the idea of freedom even though she is separated from her real family.
Marasigan explained that the story, while similar to his childhood and family dynamics, is not an autobiography, but a fictional novel about a young girl seeking freedom for her family and herself.
He hopes young readers can engage and connect with present life issues such as poverty, inequality, bullying and a lack of opportunities through his book.
“My three goals as an author are to entertain, to uplift and to motivate (readers),” said Marasigan.
“I hope that each reader would thoroughly feel good, learn from the characters because each one, particularly Juanita, has a message to share, and transfer what is learned from them to real life in order to transcend limits.”