A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn


A Tiny Upward Shove
by Melissa Chadburn
Pub Date- 4/12/22
What do you think happens when your life flashes before your eyes? Where does that term come from and is that for the ones that survive?

As Marina lays dying she calls to the spirits for help with her last breath and her body is then inhabited by an Aswang. The nightmare creatures that every child heard of growing up. The reason you never left the house at night or did bad things cause you would get taken by one or turn into one.

This book tells the story of how Marina ended up in this horrible position from her childhood till now and it’s raw and heartbreaking. Her journey from living with her loving but flighty mother to being separated into the horrific foster care system and what happened from there was just a nightmare of drugs and prostitution. Her mother still just didn’t get it. I want to find people like her friend Alex’s bio mother and give them a taste of their own medicine. I am still processing. How can there be monsters like this? I know there are but why, why pay the crap forward?!

This book makes me want to scream in the collective voices of all the women with no voices, that were lost to violence, that were not important enough to look for, that weren’t the right color to put a sign up for, I hate that there are such things as grievable numbers or substantial enough numbers to investigate. Why isn’t one enough and why does it matter if they lived on the street? Why does that invalidate their life at all?

There is a list of all the missing women at the end of this book from the Vancouver area because of this man. And just seeing all those names brought tears to my eyes.

I requested this book for the Filipino folklore but stayed  for the gripping social commentary. Marina could be any of us at any time if we had been born in different circumstances or couldn’t pay our rent or just ended up around a bunch of pakshets and they took advantage. No one is safe and until we all are safe we need to speak up for those who can’t.

❓ What was the last book that made you want to burn the world down?

Thank you fsgbooks and netgalley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.
TW: A lot


“Addictive and headlong” (Lauren Groff), A Tiny Upward Shove is inspired by Melissa Chadburn’s Filipino heritage and its folklore, as it traces the too-short life of a young, cast-off woman transformed by death into an agent of justice–or mercy.

My grandmother, sitting at her doily-covered table, marmalade on her cheek, explained that the aswang is all the evil bad things that a town or a society would want to deny–eventually it has to come out, has to be personified into something or the truth will reveal itself.

Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead.

Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories–an aswang. She spent her life on the margins, knowing very little about her own life, let alone the lives of others; she was shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known–even her killer–as she is able to access their memories and to see anew the meaning of her own. In the course of these pages she traces back through her life, finally able to see what led these lost souls to this crushingly inevitable conclusion.

In A Tiny Upward Shove, the debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s cast-offs as they find their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?


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