Two Brown Dots explores what it means to be a racially ambiguous, multiethnic, Asian American woman growing up in Kentucky. In stark, honest poems, Quintos recounts the messiness and confusion of being a typical ‘90s kid—watching Dirty Dancing at sleepovers, borrowing eye shadow out of a friend’s caboodle, crushing on a boy wearing khaki shorts to Sunday mass—while navigating the microaggressions of the neighbor kids, the awkwardness of puberty, and the casual cruelties of fellow teenagers. The mixed-race daughter of a dark skinned Filipino immigrant, Quintos retells family stories and Philippine folklore to try and make sense of an identity with roots on opposite sides of the globe.
With clear-eyed candor and a wry sense of humor, Quintos teases the line between tokenism and representation, between assimilation and belonging, offering a potent antidote to the assumption that “American” means “white.” Encompassing a whole journey from girlhood to motherhood, Two Brown Dots subverts stereotypes to reclaim agency and pride in the realness and rawness and unprettyness of a brown girl’s body, boldly declaring: We exist, we belong, we are from here, and we will continue to be.
There’s no pride in our name
because the man who left
it for us, sprinkling it on children
& women he abandoned, is not a man.
He is a black & white photo
& looks like a version of my dad
if he cut & slicked his hair: same brows,
same bony hands. He is standing
by a woman who sued him for polygamy,
the one he married while my lola
was pregnant with my dad, round
as a globe, fuming. I only wish
I could strip him of his Quintos,
make it belong only to the people
who love me to the marrow of my bones,
the ones who know my left-handed
handwriting, who show up
in its slanted poems.
“With remarkable humor and candor, Danni Quintos blazes across these pages in a most magical debut. You’ll be utterly charmed and entranced by her poems, which ignite questions of desire and justice rarely offered– unless one amalgamates folklore and childhood in such a brilliantly expansive, moving way. This is it. This is the one you were waiting for.”
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks & Other Astonishments
“Who but the Filipina girl, the keen discerning granddaughter of lola,
“Danni Quintos’s book Two Brown Dots, in addition to thinking hard about motherhood, the body, ancestry, and more, is one of the most beautiful and tender and honest depictions of the youthful negotiations of racism I’ve ever read: the lostness, the entanglements, the confusions, the hurts, the loves. How many times I gasped or dropped my head into my hands or shook my head in recognition at how clearly, how precisely, she depicted what I have felt but never quite had the words or courage to say. It is a wonder how poems can care for us like that. It is a mercy.”
—Ross Gay, author of Be Holding