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The author's knowledge of Hawaii's history & traditions is beautifully written. At the beginning the history portion and the author's story feels disconnected although half way through the book I felt like the story and history showed more connections and flowed more.
This very personal memoir reminded me of why I delight in meeting, and especially getting to know, new people. Looking at this young woman and her family today, would anyone guess she'd battled the demons or led the destructive life described in her book? Each of us has a story, but how many of us are willing to put out there for anyone to see, all the insecurities, flaws, and bad decisions we've done battle with? I'm glad Jessica Machado had the courage to do just that.
December 2022 Amazon First Read Selection Local, A Memoir felt like a love letter from the author to her home state of Hawaii as well her diverse ancestry and her flawed but much loved family. Machado weaves in both Kanaka (Native Hawaiian) mythology and often overlooked elements of Hawaiian history to her coming of age story. The daughter of divorced parents, her mother a Southern white woman and her father, both Portuguese and Kanaka,she often feels like an outsider in both her own family and in her community.
I’m lucky to have spent a fair amount of time in Hawaii but this presented a whole new side of both the landscape and the people. Later this year, I’ll be in Oahu and will be viewing this magical place with a different perspective. I don’t want to be seen as a tourist, but more of a guest who is grateful to be welcomed into such a beautiful world.
Beautifully written, this book made me think and stirred up some emotions, all without feeling preachy. Although she no longer lives in Hawaii, she visits often. Regarding her trips back to the island, she stated, “Coming home is a long exhale”. Hawaii is still very much a part of her and I’m so grateful she shared that part in this book.
Jessica’s memoir reflects on growing up on Oahu, a child of divorce, the loss of a patent as an adult and the desire to embrace the history of Hawaii that was mostly left out of her education. This is a good introduction to the stories of Hawaii.
Memoirs have become my genre of choice in recent years, primarily because the advent of convenient and inexpensive self-publication and/or the reissue of earlier works in the e-book format has allowed many of us who would never have shared our stories publicly to do so. Based on the premise that everyone’s story is valid and worthy, as long as it is authentically and honestly presented, I also tend not to be critical of style or literary niceties. Jessica Machado’s memoir “Local” about her experiences growing up in Hawai’i as a “local” – born of a father who was a native of the islands and a mother from Louisiana – is both an interesting story of her own life, and a thoughtful reflection on the history and evolution of our 50th state from occupied and oppressed colony to the present “melting pot and tourist destination” status. However, I’ll admit that I feel Machado’s narrative is somewhat lacking in bringing to a real focus her feelings about her own native background. Her story ends rather abruptly with the immediate aftermath of her mother’s death, and the epilogue she provides at the end leaves many unanswered questions.
The author is a good writer, which is one reason I found parts of this book hard to read. She does not shy away from sharing many sad, ugly, violent, and troubling experiences, as well as taking on the tragic treatment of the indigenous Hawaiians (and to a lesser extent other immigrant groups). It reads as very truthful and open, but also so sad and for most of the book rather hopeless. Not for the faint of heart! It's a book I can say is a story well told, but not necessarily that I enjoyed reading. Rather remarkable for the author to not only have survived her young adulthood, but thrived!
Jessica Machado offers layers of meaning of “local” in exploring her family, the connectedness of her heritage and the struggles of not being anchored. She lays bare her use of alcohol as rebellion, as identity, and as a numbing agent while trying to find her sense of place and self. Machado helps the reader with the historical impacts of colonialism, militarization, plantations, land grabs, government decisions over what is and isn’t indigenous, and more and how these continue to play out. She reflects on experiences of her past with insight and a critical lens. Well done.
Engagingly written, but despite how it was blurbed and advertised, Hawai’i and native Hawaiians are not the focus, they are really only a tangential backdrop for a rather ordinary coming of age story. I found it readable, but not compelling. I learned a little about Hawaiian stories, and they were nicely tied in with the author’s story, but only as context, never as substance.
What is it like to grow up in Paradise? Is it really "Paradise" for the "locals"? And what defines a "local"? Jessica Machado's memoir is both loving and eye-opening. After reading this, I think I will pass on visiting Hawaii for fear of spoiling it further!