Before immigrating to the United States in her fifties, she had never needed to work. Everything is different in California once their family is uprooted. Fe helps support their family by working customer service jobs with a smile. Yet at home, Bren, the youngest son, lives in continual fear of her random toxic tantrums, volatility, and self-centered, angry narcissism. At other times, the unusual relationship they developed is punctuated by moments of lightness. She copes with the stresses of her new life in America by hoarding: stacking piles of collected belongings around her to create the illusion of a border.
She remains within this new country, safe but solitary. Bren enjoys their newly-created lives and excels at school. He comes out as a gay man, then meets and ultimately marries his one-true-love Bob, a white American in Boston, Massachusetts. Despite Fe living in California, the distance of 3,000 miles does not loosen their link. When Fe is upset, Bren flies back across the continent at a moment's notice to calm her.
Bren Bataclan's graphic memoir is the remembrance of a complicated mother from her battle-scarred son. Yet ultimately, his story is a testament to love, in all of its complicated, wonderful forms. Bren invites us into the intimate life of one family: just one among more than four million Filipinos living in America. These valuable stories need to be told.