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Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance and young adult novellas. She has a bachelor's degree in Communication and a master's degree in Development Communication, put to good use in her work as trainer and content management consultant. Mina lives in Metro Manila, Philippines, with her husband and daughter.
She finds inspiration in the lives and experiences of other people, so the answer to "Is this story based on you?" is always, always "No."
on Sep. 17, 2013 :
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
Not counting my stash of Pinoy Pocketbooks, Love your Frenemies is my very first book read--after so many years--authored by a Filipino. I admit that I got so hooked with books written by international authors that I forgot to fully explore our local book market. Oh well, I have my eyes on Tagalog Pocketbooks. Anyway, I was really happy that I spared some time to snoop around Goodreads and discovered Mina Esguerra. And after reading a positive review (written by a fellow Filipina) for one of her books, I immediately decided that I have to try it. What's more is that it gave me an idea to start a feature here on my blog which will be called Filipiniana Sunday.
Back to topic, Love Your Frenemies follows the story of Kimmy Domingo, a selfish bitch who after being jilted by her groom nine days before her supposed wedding, fled to the US to think things through and find herself. A year later, she came back to the Philippines to reclaim her old life. Despite her yearlong hiatus and soul searching, Kimmy was still a selfish bitch.
After I finished reading Love Your Frenemies, the first thought that came to mind was that this is not a romance story. Told through alternating flashbacks and present times, Love Your Frenemies is more about Kim's self-discovery and her struggle to rise from the mess she's in. Kimmy is not only confronted with lovelife issues but also with concerns pertaining to her relationship with friends and immediate family. How Mina managed to give this very short book a mesmerizing depth is beyond me. The romance in this book was kept to a bare minimum and I was glad that the story was able to progress without relying from the romance.
Although a very short read, the book didn't fail to provide me a solid insight to Kimmy's life, thus, making me understand her on a deeper level. One of the strongest points of this book is perhaps its ensemble of heavily flawed characters with Kimmy occupying the number 1 spot. As the story advanced, I felt my resolve to hate her weakening. I found myself slowly sympathizing with her. Kimmy is a mirror of thyself. I think selfishness is an intrinsic part of human nature and everyone shouldn't have difficulty in stepping into Kimmy's shoes. Aside from Kimmy, Mina was also able to bring to life the secondary characters of this book like Chesca and Manolo (I just wished that I've seen a lot of him in this book).
Mina's writing was certainly fluid making it easy for me to navigate the whole story. The pacing was good and there wasn't a single moment that I got bored. And when I thought that Mina would surprise me no more, I was instantly floored with the ending. That was just so good & so unexpected that I was on the verge of tears. Chesca and Manolo FTW!
Despite my enjoyment, I cannot set aside my feelings of frustration for this book. As I've said earlier, Love Your Frenemies is a very short book and clearly, I want more. :D In addition, there were powerful moments in this book that weren't given the highlight they deserve. And the book ended with some things left loosely wrapped which are summarized below: (Warning: Don't read if you don't want to be spoiled)
- Kim's yearlong issue with Chesca was resolved in an unconvincing fashion and too easily.
- Manolo finally confessed his love for Kim but it wasn't explained why, how and when he came to that realization.
- Kim's issue with her mom was in a way fixed but it was just implied but it was in an ambiguous way.
- And last but not the least, Kim's realization about her mistakes was mentioned rapidly that it made me ask myself: Has Kimmy really realized the depth of what she'd done?
To wrap this review, Love Your Frenemies is more than a feel good book; it's a humbling story that would surely set the readers on a path towards finding one's self in this complicated world.
This review first appeared on: http://thoughtsandpens.com/2013/09/filipiniana-sunday-book-review-love-your-frenemies.html. Come visit my blog.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)
Janus Vielle Aragones
on Sep. 13, 2012 :
Kimmy Domingo is a b*tch. Everyone hates her. So when misfortune stroke and she got left by her fiancé days before their wedding, people thought she got what she deserved. Humiliated by what happened, Kimmy packed her bags, quit her job, and hopped on the next flight off to the States, cutting off all communications from everyone in her life. After a year of going MIA, Kimmy is back in Manila, ready to claim her life back. But where to begin?...
Kimmy is not the typical heroine that I am used to. She was the villain in Mina V. Esguerra’s My Imaginary Ex, so I already had my mind set that she’s a mean person. I apologize for being judgemental, Kimmy. It’s difficult to empathize with a villain, but I’m really happy to see a different side of the character.
Anyway, I guess I can see why everyone hated her. She was a bully in high school, and she knew it. When it comes to her job, she’s determined to succeed, even if it means stepping over people to get there. Although I find it an unappealing trait, I can’t deny there is confidence within Kimmy that not everyone possesses. She knows what she wants, and she rocks at what she does. I may not entirely like her, but with this book, Kimmy has earned my respect.
While Mina Esguerra’s other novels are more on the romance side, Love Your Frenemies focuses more on the relationship between friends. Of course this book isn’t short on a love story and other issues, but I was really surprised about the story of how far a person would go to show how much he/she values a friend.
There are many forms of friendship. Not all last as long as you’d hope. Sometimes even those that you think are the worst kind of friends turn out to be the ones you can truly depend on. This book proves that you really never know who your true friends are until you find them holding on to you in the deepest, most crucial part of your life, willing to lend a helping hand and keeping you afloat.
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)
on March 24, 2011 :
This is how I felt after finishing Ms. Esguerra's latest e-book offering - :D
Having read My Imaginary Ex, I was not sure how a book all about the mean ex-fiancee from that book would turn into a likable heroine for this one, but it totally worked. My Imaginary Ex alternates between flashbacks and the present, and I really enjoyed how this book does the same thing. Although the book is related to My Imaginary Ex, reading it first is not at all necessary to enjoying this book - it stands alone quite well.
Another great addition to the chick lit genre. This book is all about Kimmy - her friendships, her love life, and maybe becoming a little less self absorbed than she used to be.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
on Feb. 25, 2011 :
Love Your Frenemies is a sequel of sorts to Mina's other book, My Imaginary Ex, but I believe it stands well on its own and there’s no need to read that one first. It would be a good idea though because you’d get a picture of how other people see Kimmy instead of just being inside her head. Love Your Frenemies is told from alternating past and present situations so you get an idea of what Kimmy was going through during the events of My Imaginary Ex. Kimmy got dumped by her fiancé days before their supposed wedding. He suddenly realized that he’s still in love with someone else and that he couldn’t go through with the wedding. Harsh, right? But a lot of people believe that Kimmy deserved what she got because she’s such a bitch.
I was surprised by how much I liked this book more than My Imaginary Ex. You know the saying that goes, “there’s always two sides to every story”? This is Kimmy’s side. I can understand why other people find her rude, manipulative and heartless. Kimmy is smart, beautiful and she knows it. She admits that she tends to be overconfident. She doesn’t go out of her way to hurt and manipulate other people, it’s just that she can’t be bothered to be nice. Kimmy has a turbulent relationship with her best gal pal, Chesca, because they’re the epitome of mean girls. Kimmy and Chesca ruled their high school – they got to decide who would become members of their clique based on how useful their classmates were. Both girls understand how the other person thinks and that’s why they’re such good friends and why they also have the worst fights. They know what to say to get the other person riled up. Another person who is one of the major reasons why Kimmy’s so messed up is her first love, Manolo. Handsome, charming and witty Manolo. Can I just say that I can’t get over his name because it’s such an old school Filipino name? I feel like if I knew someone named Manolo, he’d be nicknamed something shorter and more modern like Manny or Nollie. Ever since they were teenagers, Manolo has been blowing hot and cold and Kimmy knows it’s stupid to hope for a steady relationship but she can’t help it. Kimmy’s story isn’t centered on the romance but instead focuses on her relationships with the Country Club set of people that she grew up with. It’s not surprising that she’s not a nice person because of all the drama in her life – it’s like a constant soap opera.
What I love about Mina’s books is how believable they all are. I may not love all of her books but I can believe that her stories actually happen to other people. It’s everything about her work – the familiar places, the situations that you can relate to, the characters that feel like they could be your friends. Maybe it’s also because I feel like I’m the target audience of her books – a twenty-something Filipina. This is another enjoyable read from Mina V. Esguerra and as always, I look forward to reading her next one.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
on Feb. 21, 2011 :
The release of Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra totally made my Monday morning happier, and it also made me lose sleep because I couldn't put it down. I was so excited to read this that I put all other currently reads down, and the need to write my thoughts on feels more urgent than writing reviews for the two books that I need to reviews first. I can only think of two reasons why I have this urgency: it's because I really liked this book and I need to share my thoughts ASAP, and because I'm such a Mina fan. ;)
Love Your Frenemies features Kimberly Domingo, a familiar character for those who have read Mina's first book, My Imaginary Ex. For the uninitiated, Kimberly, also known as Kimmy, is the b*tch in her debut novel, the villain in Jasmine and Zack's romance. It's easy to hate her in that book as she was painted completely in black and white. More of a companion novel than a sequel (so you don't have to read My Imaginary Ex to understand this...spoiler warning for that novel, though, if you haven't read it!), this gives us a different picture of Kimmy, one year after she left after being dumped by Zack. Kimmy goes back home for her best friend's wedding, changed from her one year absence. Determined to start over, she slowly faces all the things she left behind -- her family, her Country Club friends, her old job. She's also ready to cut off the people she's declared toxic in her life, namely her bride-to-be best friend, Chesca, and her first love, hunky and charismatic Manolo.
I love spin-off stories featuring other characters, especially the villains, because it gives readers an entirely different perspective. It's also a great character study and a perfect example of how our first impressions of people don't tell us much. I like how Mina built Kimmy's back story here, making her less evil and just another person who had issues to deal with on her own, issues that happened to entangle other people. It shows that people aren't always black and white, but mostly gray.
I also liked that this one focused more on Kimmy's self-discovery and friendships than the romance. Oh sure, Manolo's hot (but I still find Lucas of Fairy Tale Fail hotter, LOL), but Kimmy's relationship with him wasn't the sole focus of the story. Love Your Frenemies isn't really just about love but about, well, frenemies. :) I liked how Mina made the other characters three-dimensional. Like the first Kimmy in My Imaginary Ex, some of them were easy to hate at first, but as the story unfolded, I started to somewhat understand why they did what they did, even if it's not what an ideal friend would do. I found myself feeling somewhat affectionate towards them in the end, and it further proves that people are not what you always believe them to be.
Love Your Frenemies is filled with flawed characters that paints a very accurate picture of how complicated and messy relationships -- family, friendships, and romantic ones -- are. It doesn't have any of those heart-stopping, tingle-inducing romance, but more of the introspection of a woman who's trying to build her life back from the mess that it has been and is determined not to make another mistake. The characters are far from perfect, and honestly I don't think they'd be my crowd, but they're definitely the kind of people that you'd want to be on your side even if they can be a pain in the neck more than half the time.
I think Love Your Frenemies show how much Mina really thinks about what she writes. It's difficult to give a voice to a villain and make her human and deserving of sympathy, but Mina does it almost effortlessly in her newest novel. Kimmy isn't your most lovable character, unlike Jasmine or Ellie or Carla, but she's the type of character that will stay with you long after you've closed the last page, teaching us important lessons on discovering yourself, forgiveness and the ties that bind.
Highly recommended, and don't think I'm saying that only because I'm such a fan. ;)
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
on Feb. 21, 2011 :
Compared to the author's other books, Love Your Frenemies is less about romance and is more about friendship and self-discovery. Kimmy, who is first seen (and painted in a not-so-pretty light) in Ms Esguerra's first book My Imaginary Ex, takes centerstage in Frenemies. She is back in town for her best friend's wedding, and it's the first time she's facing the aftermath of her own cancelled ceremony. Missing here is the light-hearted fluff that often accompany love stories, but in its place is a more introspective piece.
You don't need to read My Imaginary Ex to enjoy this one, especially since both books are driven by two very different energies. It must have been very challenging to write someone like Kimmy. Ms Esguerra could have taken the easy path and written Kimmy as someone whose behavior had been grossly exaggerated and heavily misunderstood but she wisely makes no excuses for Kimmy's behavior in the past. Kimmy is a flawed character -- whether she is lovable is up to the reader -- but her courage is admirable. Her friendship with bride-to-be Chesca was sharply and realistically written. Frenemies puts premium on friendship and forgiveness and, if you like your love stories on the somewhat subdued side, is worth the read.
(reviewed the day of purchase)