August 8, 2009 – A typhoon destroyed the main bridge to Iba, Zambales and that was why my closest friends, my then boyfriend (now husband), and I went to Tagaytay instead. Despite the change of plans, it was still a good day because everyone was in a jolly mood. One of my best friends even bought me a yellow umbrella out of the blue.
That night, my boyfriend and guy friends suddenly announced that we’d have a nice dinner in an Italian restaurant with a great view. I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to eating bulalo in one of the family restaurants in the area.
The boys were right, the restaurant was fancy and the food was wonderful. To make the most of the view, my friends wanted to take photos outside. While posing on the bench, my boyfriend suddenly knelt in front of me. I heard my girlfriends scream. I heard myself scream.
My then boyfriend (allegedly) said, “Bitsy, for five years you’ve been the best part of my day. Would you be the best part of my life?”
Of course, I didn’t hear a word he said. But his actions said enough. Of course I said yes.
That day was one of the best days of my life, even if I didn’t get to eat bulalo.
Our wedding is also one of the best days of my life. I’ll tell that story another day.
Ward’s debut novel, ‘Num8ers’ is about Jem, a 15 year-old who sees the date of death of any person she comes into eye contact with. Crippled by her curse, she avoids social interaction as much as possible but that did not stop Spider, a fellow outcast, from befriending her. While on a trip to the London Eye, Jem noticed that people had the same date of death. The date was today. Time was running out. She and Spider have to start running for their lives.
‘Num8ers’ is a gritty, fast-paced read. Its characters and social situations greatly reminded me of the Brit TV shows: ‘Skins’ (which was mentioned in the novel in passing) and ‘Misfits.’ Jem and Spider are both viewed as juvenile delinquents whose futures are bleak and hopeless. The novel is marketed as a thriller but it is mostly about the two characters’ developing relationship while on the run. The ending was a bit surprising, though loyal to the mood of the novel.
There’s a lot of cussing, a number of criminal acts, and a sex scene in the novel but it’s still a recommended read for teens because they can relate well to the main theme of the novel: hoping for the best despite dire circumstances.
On a side note, I was lucky enough to be part of the webcast done with Rachel Ward a few months ago during the Manila International Book Fair. I even got the chance to ask her some questions and re-welcomed her a few times while the techs on our side were fixing our connection. Based on Ward’s background and demeanor, you wouldn’t imagine her writing this novel but that’s what makes her a pretty good writer.
Did I just indirectly admit that I haven’t read a single book of hers when I talked to her? Oh well…