DiscoverComing of Age

Juanita, Freedom Seeker (Volumes 1 and 2)

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"Juanita Freedom Seeker" is an uplifting and heartwarming story about the escape from poverty for teenager Juanita and her honest family.

Juanita is a teen-ager living with her hardworking family on the poor side of town. She has dreams of being something and someone else. She dreams of freedom.


“Juanita Freedom Seeker” by Juan Cenon Marasigan tells of her journey from the crowded tenement where she lives with her family to her new life. The story is part fairy tale and part mortality play. Life is hard in the tenement, but not gruesome. Hard work is rewarded. And no one is fully bad or good.


The story takes place in San Carlos, a sprawling city that is presented in exquisite detail by Marasigan without judgment. Both sides of the city – the poor side and the rich side – are mere sides of life. The setting adds to the generally pleasant nature of the story. Juanita is the complex character in the story. She is a teenager on the cusp of womanhood. She seeks freedom from poverty, wants a boyfriend and to grow and learn. Yet she is tied to her family through love and devotion. Her desire to escape poverty is fueled when she is unable to secure two different jobs to help her family. Her escape comes through the intervention of a rich family, Don Rico Mendez, her mother’s employer, and his wife, Dona Mendez. The change makes Juanita both happy and troubled. She is excited for her new life, but worried about her family and how much she will miss them.


Marasigan presents a pleasant, simple story. Sometimes too simple. There is change in the story, but little character conflict or development to make the changes seem anything more than a checklist. Juanita is seeking freedom and by gum, she will get it. An occasional twist or turn might have made those changes more meaningful. Still, there is nothing wrong with a story that shows the rewards of hard work, and the importance of faith and family. Good things can happen to good people. But life (and fiction) is more complex than it is presented here.

Reviewed by

I am a career award-winning journalist and the author of the four-book Frank Nagler Mystery series. Kirkus Reviews called Nagler "one of modern fiction's expertly drawn detectives." I have also written short stores, poetry, and literary fiction.

Chapter 1

About the author

After teaching high school Biology in a boys then a girls school, Juan Cenon completed 8 degrees and specializations in 3 continents. He teaches Psychology and hopes to continue teaching by writing stories about love, hope, and life. A liturgical minister, he loves cooking for his family. view profile

Published on February 29, 2020

Published by Friesen Press

120000 words

Genre: Coming of Age

Reviewed by