When the de la Cruz Family Danced

A Novel by Donna MiscoltaSignal 8 PressDuring his one and only return visit to the Philippines, Johnny de la Cruz, plagued by a sense of isolation, feels a glimmer of connection to the place of his birth and youth when he sees Bunny Bulong, the hometown Miss Sampaguita of 1946. Johnny succumbs to a quick sexual encounter with the ever attractive and beguiling Bunny. Years later, sick with cancer and faced with the possibility of dying, he regrets that he never had a son—a lack that has distanced him from his daughters and sometimes his wife. Miles away, nineteen-year-old Winston Piña has barely finished eulogizing his recently deceased mother Bunny, when he finds a letter she wrote, but never sent to Johnny de la Cruz, leading him into the lives of the de la Cruz family — a family to which he might or might not belong. The novel explores the ties within family and how circumstances of birth, immigration, and assimilation tug at those ties.


This extraordinary novel illustrates a family’s long journey toward making peace—with the world, with the family, and with individual selves. Miscolta is a pitch-perfect prose stylist and a passionately empathetic creator: she savors sentence-making and attends to the all-important nuanced moments between people. This chronicle of a family is beautifully observed and heart-rendingly told, and these characters will linger long after you’ve closed the book. I feel blessed to have met this family and to have made the journey with them. – Antonya Nelson


Read about the inspiration behind When the de la Cruz Family Danced and other influences in my writing in these interviews: King County Employee News (October 2014), Intermittent Visitors (October 2012), La Coquette Levantine (June 2012), Seattle Wrote (May 2012), ph.d. in creative writing (March 2012), Turning East (January 2012), Fil-Am Fest (September 2011), Freelance and Fiction (July 2011), and First Line (July 2011).

I was interviewed by Janelle So on Kababayan LA, Southern California’s only daily Filipino television show.

Audio Excerpts from The Novel


Prologue – A Month in the Tropics
 Chapter 1 – Special Effects of Home Movies
Chapter 2 – Packing Bunny’s Things
 Chapter 5 – Obligation

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