As a very predominantly Catholic country with a conservative culture, the Philippines is probably one of the last places I’d expect to find a published lesbian novel about two Filipinas falling in love—with each other, and not for a man.
However, the year 2020 changed a lot of things, not the least of which was how LGBTQ+ pairings became more and more mainstream. Remember the successful web series Gameboys, Hello Stranger, Pearl Next Door, and Gaya sa Pelikula? These gained a lot of popularity among many viewers, while also lauded for representation.
It was also last year that Pop Fiction also released Tibok, written by Wattpad author Peachxvision. With an eye-catching cover that speaks volumes, this book is about Kayi, a closeted lesbian who meets Kabi one fateful (and rainy) Valentine’s Day… and then meets her again as she discovers the different hues of love she never knew existed in one person.
Pop Fiction Review: Tibok
For anyone who is part of the community, whether you’re an actual member or an ally, this book is a highly recommended read. Here are some of the many reasons why this book has officially become my most favorite Pop Fic book ever!
It’s a real and genuine story
Whenever I read fiction, there is always this reminder at the back of my head that whatever I am reading is not real. When you read, you suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in the world crafted by authors with stories that are more often than not, too good to be true.
But in this book, it was certainly not the case. Tibok unflinchingly faces the reality for many members of the LGBTQ+ community. Everything about the characters, from their feelings to their circumstances, and their struggle with being confident about their own sexual identity is too real.
People in real life are just like Kayi. It doesn’t matter if you’re also a closeted lesbian or not; we all have a hidden part of ourselves we want the world to know and accept with no repercussions, judgment, and prejudice. But despite this want, we are scared—afraid of being shunned from being who we really are. And so, we live in the quiet seclusion of our real identities.
Aside from that, the parents of Kabi and Kayi also showed the readers two different outcomes of coming out to the world which actually happens in real life—both acceptance, and rejection. Not every coming out story ends with a tragedy, but not every story is guaranteed a happy ending, either.
Tibok is a story for every real-life Kayi and Kabi out there who just wants to love, to be loved, and to be accepted for who their hearts truly beat for. This story definitely hits home when you read it because of the characters’ relatability to real-life struggles and frustrations.
A variety of LGBTQ+ representation
Other than our main protagonists, Kayi (who identifies as lesbian) and Kabi (who identifies as bisexua)l, this book also introduces more members of the pride.
Kayi’s cousin, Ashley, is now Asher, a trans man who was brave enough to go against their traditional family and undergo transition overseas to finally come out of his shell and embrace his identity. We also have Lucas, Kayi’s blind date, who turns out to be gay.
Another character worth mentioning is Lyka— Kayi’s date set up by a mutual friend who is one of the reasons why Kabi realizes her true feelings for Kayi (thank you, Lyka!). There is truly no shortage of LGBTQ+ representation in this book, and it is rare to see that in mainstream publications.
It’s a beautifully written story about all the colors of love
I feel like throughout this whole review, I haven’t credited the author enough for the way they wrote Tibok. Peachxvision is a talented writer for being able to successfully weave the entire narrative through the colors of the rainbow.
Each chapter progresses with a different arc that propels the story forward. With no filler moment, every part of the narrative contributed greatly to the story. Even the chat inserts within chapters made sense. Everything was cohesively put together to create this colorful work of fiction to show its readers that love is a rainbow, and that it is different for everyone. But just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s not love. As long as your heart beats and longs for that person, love is love.
Hopefully, Tibok is not the last pride fiction book we see in bookstores. We all deserve to read more of its kind in the future for more representation and to normalize these love stories on mainstream media. Through and through, Tibok is now my most favorite Pop Fiction title, and I look forward to more LGBTQ+ stories in the future.
Love knows no boundaries. So if you’re excited to dive into Kayi and Kabi’s story, we’ve got you covered. Tibok by Peachxvision is available in ebook and print format on every Summit Books shop on Shopify, Lazada, and Shopee for only P180 and P199 respectively.