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on Nov. 09, 2013 :
by Teresa Belardes
This is a story so rich in atmosphere and ancient Hawaiian Culture, that as a reader I was struck by just ignorant I was about the culture itself and how greatly it was affected by the influx of travelers, traders and missionaries, who enveloped the Hawaiian islands in the early 1800's.
A combination of these forces mixed in strong combination with the illnesses and even the vices they introduced, were largely responsible for a redistribution of power that would mark the end of the old Hawaiian ways, as the islanders are forced to turn from attendance to the Gods and Goddesses of their Hawaiian ancestry, overseen by their Kahunas to worship the God of Christianity.
Intricate power struggles weave a backdrop for a beautiful romance between Lehua, a sheltered, but insightful young wahini (woman) aristocrat with a deep love for her people, who has been sent to study the renowned Hula Halau at the most prestigious hula school on the island of Kauaii, and a paniolo (cowboy), son of a well-respected Chinese merchant who has deep ties to the island as well.
This story, the first in a trilogy, is lush garden of a story, with memorable characters, historically accurate events and a treasure chest of Hawaiian history, lore, language, religion, politics and culture. The story, even though infused with many Hawaiian words, (which at first I was afraid would be troublesome,) moves swiftly, and their inclusion proved to be no problem at all. In fact, they go a long way to enrich this extraordinary reading experience.
This was a pleasure of a page turner for me and I am looking forward to the next two parts of Lehua's very intriguing saga.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on July 02, 2012 :
I got a hard copy of this book when it first came out a few weeks back. I now have an ebook copy so I can cart it around to go back to some of the richness of this story while I'm out and about. There's a cinematic quality to this book that says "Film Me!"
"Descendants" was a George Clooney film that captured the interest of people when it dealt with the concept of land in Hawaii- how it was to be treated and honored and how ancient concepts emerged from Hawaii's past to impact the present. Gene Parola's new book takes the reader through a period of 19th century change that radically touched the lives of those living through momentous upheaval, and still impacts the lives of those in 21st century Hawaii. This is a book that gives a solid understanding of what Clooney was only able to touch on in the space of his film. Cinematic in its approach, the book cries out for screen play treatment. Clooney should grab this book and start filming before another ambitious filmmaker does.
(reviewed the day of purchase)