Book Reviews

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “A story of courage…and courage now to tell it.”

Charles Ashbacher, Marion, Iowa, United States
Top Reviewer for Amazon.com

This story is one of many that needs to be told soon or will not be told at all. Jean-Marie Faggiano was a young girl living in the Philippines in 1941. As American citizens living abroad, they were fairly well off and had a happy life until December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Shortly after that, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and drove the American and Filipino forces out of Manila. All nationalities considered enemy aliens by the Japanese were ordered to report to an internment camp and Jean-Marie and her family went to the Santo Tomas camp that became their home for the next 36 months. [More]

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “insightful and deeply moving…a rich and enriching read.”

Chris Smith,  Santa Rosa, California, United States
Columnist, The Press Democrat

No one, much less a child of six, should have to suffer the inhumanity and deprivation that Jean-Marie Heskett bore at Imperial Japan’s Santa Tomas Internment Camp in Manila through most of World War II. That she survived was her first great triumph. Her second was to avoid becoming hateful, thanks largely to her mother and the few silver linings of imprisonment – a major one was her unlikely friendship with a young Japanese soldier.
Heskett’s latest and crowning triumph is “Through My Mother’s Eyes,” the insightful and deeply moving book she has created with her son, Michael McCoy. It’s a rich and enriching read.

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “…a must-have for your collection.”

Lou Thompson, Santa Rosa, California, United States
American Legion Auxilliary, East Palo Alto Unit #472

Through My Mother’s Eyes is a conversation about the recollected experiences of a young girl trapped in the middle of a war between the Japanese and the rest of the world. The author, Michael McCoy, and his mother, Jean-Marie Heskett, share in vignette-form taking the reader quickly from tragedy to humor to atrocity to compassion. This civilian-child’s look at WWII in the Philippines proves the great resilience of children to overcome, adapt, and survive. For those who enjoy true WWII accounts, this is a must-have for your collection.

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “…vivid story of courage and cruelty, fear and faith, and love and loss.”

Kate Greenwood, TCM Reviews, McCall, Idaho, United States

December 7th, 1941 was a scary day for Americans at home and abroad. The Japanese attack was sudden and destructive marking the beginning of a long deadly war. While Japanese Americans were herded into internment camps in the Western U.S., Americans living abroad, specifically in the Philippines, were asked to surrender to Japanese internment camps. Jean-Marie Faggiano was six years old the day her father, Gene, her mother, Eileen, and her older brother, Jimmy, packed three days worth of clothes and arrived at Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, Philippines. The Faggiano’s wealth and success was meaningless in what soon became a daily struggle for survival. From lack of sufficient food and medical care to inane laws enacted by their Japanese captors, the Faggiano’s and the other 3,000 internees endured for 37 months.
Through My Mother’s Eyes is Jean-Marie’s vivid story of courage and cruelty, fear and faith, and love and loss as told to her oldest son Michael McCoy. The reader will be amazed by the clarity of this story though over 60 years have passed since the Japanese surrender to U.S. Forces. On that memorable day in February 1945 Jean-Marie became a poster child for hope and internees when a photo of her and a soldier presenting her a doll appeared in the Stars and Stripes publication. This memoir is both educational and emotional as feelings bleed from the pages and the gaps are filled in a history lesson of the struggles of Americans abroad during WW II.
The resilience of Jean-Marie and her family will inspire the reader. And though this is a story based on war, genuine humanity shines through from both sides as people do what’s necessary to survive, both physically and emotionally.

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “A riveting story…incredible work. I could not set the book down…”

John Michael, Santa Rosa, California, United States
Musician and author of The Art of Moderation

A riveting story beyond my wildest imagination. This incredible work, depicting humanity at its best and worst, grabbed my attention and did not let go.  I could not set the book down once I started.

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “Poignant and informative.”

Don McGinty, Santa Rafael, California, United States

It’s a good read and brings up many very different emotions. It’s wonderful how it captures the author’s mother’s memories and places them in a context that makes them accessible to the reader. The plight of the allied nationals in the Philippines during WWII is a story not often heard. This book is both a reminder and an extension of that story. In addition Jean-Marie’s tale reveals the incredible resilience of the people, both allies and Japanese, caught in the horror of a concentration camp yet intent on holding to the pieces of a normal life.

stars-5-0__V25749326_ “Admirable courage in the midst of war.”

Dr. Gino C. Matibag, Makati City, Philippines
Author, JAPAN Lights and Shadows

In his book “Through My Mother’s Eyes,” Michael McCoy captured every detail of Jean-Marie Heskett’s memories as a prisoner of war in Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines during the Second World War. The author described the events so well that I seem to travel back in time. The war was right in front of me. For more than three years, Jean-Marie — or Jerry, as she is fondly called — had experienced many pains and fears that no child should suffer from.
As I was reading, I felt Jerry’s emotions, both good and bad. One lesson that I learned is that even in the most depressing time, there is always hope, and never to lose it.
There were many amusing stories in between, but at the last few pages my eyes were wet and I had many gooseflesh moments as I read every line.
I got to know and appreciate more of the history of my alma mater — the University of Santo Tomas. In 2011, the University will celebrate its 400th founding anniversary. Attending it will have more meaning to me because of this book.
To Michael and Jean-Marie, your book is outstanding. This will be a good movie or theatrical play material.
If you’re a lover of history, stories of tragedies and triumphs, this is a must-read book. I highly recommend it. Buy your copy now!