From the Neworld Review:
Leche is a book about contradiction: the title, the country it takes place in, and the quest Vince finds himself on without even realizing it. The word leche in Spanish means “milk,” while in the Philippines, it is a curse word, “shit”. Leche both provides nourishment and is filth. Throughout the book, Linmark strategically places lists of tourist tips. They are humorous and interesting, and when the story didn’t quite peak my interest, I would look ahead to see how much further until I reached another set of tourist tips. Having said that, the last two of the book read:
- Keep tourist tips where they belong: at the International Date Line.
- Remember: in Manila, contradictions are always welcome, including—and especially—yours.
The culture is open and growing and continuing to change as the country and its people survive, and in this it breaks from the constraints of stereotypes. As for Vince, his journey through Manila and his memories grow more personal and deep through the novel. We finally see what Vince struggles with and hope that he has found his answer, as it wasn’t stated explicitly (for me) in the end. It wasn’t until I reread the introductory quotes that I found some form of understanding. “Resist – a plot is brought home – The tour,” is from Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels. And “But to draw the lessons of the good that came my way, I will describe the other things I saw,” from Dante’s Inferno. Linmark chose these quotes to bring the reader’s attention to the theme that it is the lessons learned along the journey that show us home.