Sunday, January 26, 2014

This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila

This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila 2013.

I came across this book at work (public library) the other week. Of course I stopped when I saw the hula girl on the cover but then I knew I wanted to read it when I saw the author's last name was Hawaiian. While I love my books on the historical take of the South Pacific, I do want learn about how things really are today. Also, I like the Bibliotiki to have a focus on women writer's so this seemed perfect.

It is a collection of short stories that all take places on various islands in Hawaii. If you were looking for heart warming travel stories about an idyllic place, just stop right there and back away from this book. Also, if you aren't good with understanding pidgin this might make it a difficult book at times.

These are fictional stories about contemporary, current Hawaii. It is not all sensational Dog the Bounty Hunter type characters or drama but it can be pretty heavy, kinda of like how Hawaii actually is if you scratch the surface.

I imagine that many of these very vivid characters come from actual people in the author's life. There were only a few stories that I didn't like the characters or the story much. One being Road to Hana, where a Hawaiian native has move back home and is with her Haole boyfriend. The story had promise but then just kinda of ended.

One of the best stories I thought was Thirty-Nine Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funeral into a Drinking Game. Very dark humor in it and a great portrayal of an extended family. The first story in the collection, This is Paradise, really sets the tone for the book. A story of a young tourist coming to Hawaii for vacation and her interaction with the locals.

While the book is based in Hawaii, it is really about those universal themes of love, death and family.

It isn't very long, 238 pages. None of the stories are connected so it's great if you just want to pick up and read one story at a time. I believe this is her first book/collection, I really hope she will have more coming out in the near future.

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