Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

While I would certainly have never passed up a trip to Hawaii, to be perfectly honest I never had any huge desire to go. I mean, it's a long flight for starters. Second, it's expensive! And third, why go there when I can get a tropical paradise a lot closer in the Caribbean?

But then Alan Brennert and his books came into my life, and now Hawaii has jumped a few places on my "must see" list. His writing is so beautiful, and the scenes he describes are so unique and incredible that I can't help but to want to hop the first plane across the Pacific and see these islands with my own eyes.

Honolulu is the story of Regret, a Korean girl in the early 20th Century whose biggest desire is to get an education. Knowing that her chances of fulfillment are slim in Korea, she signs up as a picture bride for a prosperous Korean man living in Hawaii and travels to the remote islands in search of a better life. But what greets Regret in Hawaii is a violent husband with little money and a habit of drinking away what money he does receive. But from this unfortunate situation, Regret renames herself Jin (Gem in Korean) and along with her fellow picture brides, not only manages to survive this new land of Hawaii but also thrive.

I will admit that Moloka'i will probably forever hold a place in my heart as my favorite Brennert novel. However, that doesn't mean Honolulu was any less amazing. The story was unique and intriguing, and watching Regret transform into Jin was an amazing experience. As with his previous novel, this one also is a beautiful tapestry of fiction and nonfiction, each piece of the puzzle perfectly fitting into the bigger picture and creating something incredible.

Because I love historical novels that so seamlessly blend fact and fiction, I wanted to include some photos of real life people who readers run into in this book. It's always a wonderful treat for me when I finish a book and I can hop online and see what these people really looked like.

Chang Apana

Joe Kahahawai

W. Somerset Maugham (and the real "Sadie Thompson")

Queen Liliuokalani

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