"She wanted the fastest cheapest way to exist. Yet somehow, at the same time, if you'd asked her, she would have told you that she did not want to exist. That she did not want to be touched."
A Tiny Upward Shove is an ambitious novel that intertwines Filipino folklore, murder, and the lasting traumas of the unwanted and forgotten women of the world. Marina, a sex worker, is murdered in the opening pages of the book by Willy Pickton (who is based on a real serial killer of the same name). At the moment of her untimely murder, an Aswang is called forth by her ancestral heritage. In Filipino folklore, an Aswang is a shape-shifting, mythical creature that attaches its spirit to a family for seven generations until it fulfills the unfinished business of the afflicted. But how did Marina get here? Selling tricks to score another hit? This story is not a simple narrative of her life, but a deep look into a flawed system and a fractured humanity that led to another nameless murder. The author oscillates between the story of Marina’s Aswang seeking vengeance for her murder and the events that led to that singular moment. The brutality of the narrative doesn’t consume the reader, but rather penetrates the façade that every child is wanted and cared for. This is not an easy read, but it feels like a necessary one.