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The sections on the language, culture, history, and quite frankly brutalization of Hawaii were interesting, graceful, and informative:
"Aloha is a very real, very powerful thing—a force of love and gratitude you can feel in the breeze, in the ocean, and as you bite into laulau made by a friend. In fact, aloha ‘āina, or love of the land, is at the heart of sovereignty. Aloha ‘āina is what guided Pele, Hi‘iaka, and the many other akua and mortal Kānaka who did not just play nice and allow things to happen, who instead stood up for the land. Aloha should be reserved for what gives you sustenance, what grounds you, what provides you with connection and healing. Unlike what the tourist industry would have you believe, aloha should not be watered down to a pleasantry granted to anyone who stumbles upon cheery Natives. It should not be equated to a blanket niceness. Niceness isn’t an effective solution for when situations get complicated or when the sacred gets disrespected."
The rest of the book is a mix of her life growing up into an angsty, often inebriated young woman amid divorced parents, step parents, and step siblings. It often makes it hard to have empathy for her situation, due to her actions. Do I see the parallels drawn between her and the timing for the scattered information about Hawaii? Yes. Am I completely unsympathetic? No, we were all young and foolish at one point.
She also uses the book to talk about her family history, including a secret her mother kept until she passed away. This feels uncomfortable and intrusive, and makes me very sad for her mother in ways I doubt the author intended.
I'm wavering between 3 and 4 stars for this one, but that last part is deeply unsettling on so many levels...
The book is well written, and well paced other than the Hawaiian history interludes that bog it down. The author knows nothing about her Hawaiian genealogy, yet somehow it becomes, in addition to her mother, a reason (justification?) for her anger and dysfunctional behavior. She cites well-known and well-respected Native Hawaiian intellectuals and authors. Learning history from books and university academics but no offering personal experience about growing up with cultural practices explains why her history lessons are so empty. How is exploiting her Hawaiian ancestry to legitimize herself to a non Hawaiian audience who wonʻt question her authority different from what the colonizers have done? My friends who knew her mother vouch for her being beloved by her students, and so sorry she turned off the charm when she got home to make her daughter so angry and self- destructive. I thought by the end of the book I would understand the source of her anger but I didnʻt. She had an entitled upbringing with all the love and material things she could ask for including an education at one of the best private schools in the state, Christian or otherwise. Whereʻs the beef? Glad for her that she turned out so successfully.
I love all things Hawaii as I'm the youngest of five and the only one NOT born in Hawaii. I think the author is about 10 years younger than me, judging from things she talks about in the book. I spent every summer in Hawaii with my Auntie and cousins, and if she has angst about being a light skinned hapa growing up in Hawaii, imagine being a dark skinned hapa with a Texas accent and running around with your Hawaii cousins!!! I was more than pleasantly surprised, though, when she mentioned hanging out at Hawaiian Brian's because that is my brother's business!!!! I immediately took a screenshot of the page and the cover of the book and sent it to him.
Lots of Hawaiian lingo and words. I would like to have more information about her mother's side of the family. Seems like she was only trying to do her duty without any real heart in it regarding her mother especially at the end of her life. Always anxious to get back to the partying. Can't believe the way her father treated women and with no repercussions. If he is representative of the way native men think it's ok to behave then I would want no part of them.
The read was not easy for me, but I "felt" the emotions of this story. It again made me realize that we each have our own struggles and should always choose to show love not judgement for others. "Ahloha" to everyone .
Some of this book is about the unique experience or growing up in Hawaii. But much of the books is also about a typical teenager growing up in United States and all of the experiences that she had. I did not find it particularly inspiring. I had very similar experiences myself and did not feel the need to write a book about it.
A story about a dysfunctional native Hawaiian girl trying to find herself until her mid twenties. She made poor decisions constantly , in a cry for help from her family and friends. I had a difficult time reading to the end, but did so hoping she would survive. I hope this story is not a typical native life narrative. I would not recommend this book.