by Jasmin Iolani Hakes
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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 27 Jun 2023
“A full-throated chant for Hawai'i. Part coming-of-age story, part historical family epic, all love. . . . It’s impossible to come away unchanged.”—Kawai Strong Washburn, author of the PEN/Hemingway award-winning Sharks in the Times of Saviors
Set in Hilo, Hawai’i, a sweeping saga of tradition, culture, family, history, and connection that unfolds through the lives of three generations of women—a brilliant blend of There, There and Sharks in the Time of Saviors that is a tale of mothers and daughters, dance and destiny, told in part in the collective voice of a community fighting for its survival
“There’s no running away on an island. Soon enough, you end up where you started.”
Hi'i is the youngest of the legendary Naupaka dynasty, only daughter of Laka, once the pride of Hilo; granddaughter of Hulali, Hula matriarch on the Big Island. But the Naupka legacy is in jeopardy, buckling under the weight of loaded silences and unexplained absences, most notably the sudden disappearance of Laka when Hi’i was a child. Hi’i dreams of healing the rifts within her family by becoming the next Miss Aloha Hula—and prove herself worthy of carrying on the family dynasty. She demonstrates her devotion to her culture through hula—the beating heart of her people expressed through the movement of her hips and feet.
Yet she has always felt separate from her community, and the harder she tries to prove she belongs—dancing in the halau until her bones ache—the wider the distance seems to grow. Soon, fault lines begin to form, and secrets threaten to erupt. Everyone wants to know, Hi’i most of all: what really happened when her mother disappeared, and why haven’t she and her grandmother spoken since? When a devastating revelation involving Hi’i surfaces, the entire community is faced with a momentous decision that will affect everyone—and determine the course of Hi’i’s future.
Part incantation, part rallying cry, Hula is a love letter to a stolen paradise and its people. Told in part by the tribal We, it connects Hawaii’s tortured history to its fractured present through the story of the Naupaka family. The evolution of the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement is reflected in the journeys of these defiant women and their community, in whose struggle we sense the long-term repercussions of blood quantum laws and colonization, the relationship between tribe and belonging, and the universal question: what makes a family?
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Average rating from 26 members
I adored this book. A glimpse into Hawaiian life and still so relevant today in light of the recent protests. Writing across multiple timelines was wonderful. I loved getting a fuller understanding of the big picture by seeing what the women were thinking in their own time. It was powerful and thought provoking. Absolutely will be recommending it.
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