Cocoy’s not-so-secret dream is to one day become a gun-toting, ass-kicking secret agent. But she has another dream—and this time, even her best friends don’t have a clue—she dreams of someone.
Problem is, she finds out that Jaime Arguelles—a.k.a. the guy she’d been secretly crushing on for years—likes girls who . . . well . . . like pink.
To Cocoy’s logical mind, there’s only one solution: it’s time to go girly. After all, how hard can it be?
With the help of her friends, Cocoy embarks on a pink-tinged journey that somehow turns her neat and orderly life upside down. But it’s all good—because in the midst of her blossoming relationship, Cocoy learns a whole lot about life, love, dreams, and friendship . . . and about the healing power of pan de sal, Chippy, and Nutella.
The title threw me off just a little, to be honest. I thought it’s a story of a young boy who wanted to physically become a girl. Turns out that while that would be a very interesting story, When Cocoy Became Kikay tells a completely different tale of a teenage girl’s transformation.
Cocoy is one of the boys, and she is happy in her skin, thank you very much. That is, until she falls in crush with the one and only Jaime Arguelles, the boy next door who prefers girls who wear pink and maybe a tiny bit of lipgloss. To get him to even see her as a girl, Cocoy felt she needed to start looking like one for a start, and thus begins her adventure.
Some of the turns in the book felt familiar, not because they were annoyingly predictable, but because Cocoy felt like someone I knew, or maybe someone I’ve been at one point in my (definitely less colorful) adolescence. Santi writes the character as if Cocoy is someone she loves, someone she roots for, and that is palpable in the narrative. The inside of Cocoy’s head is a bright, funny place, and I love being inside of it. The ending was a topic of discussion for me and my friend, but it felt right to me. It felt deserved and comforting, just like a spread of pandesal, Chippy, and Nutella on a bad day.
About the Author
C.P. Santi is a Filipina writer based in Tokyo, Japan. She is a wife to an engineer / musician / jokester and a full-time mom to two energetic boys. She loves cooking and feeding people, gorging on chocolate, watching J-doramas, belting it out in the karaoke box, and running around the house playing tickle tag. She also loves dreaming up stories about the people she meets.
In another life, she is also an architect and academic.