This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. However, because of the cover picture I assumed it was about a nightclub performer and probably would not have read it if my daughter hadn't recommended it. I'm glad she did.
To me, the title, "Honolulu," is a bit misleading. As one reader suggested, "The Picture Brides" would be a more descriptive title. I loved reading about the courageous Korean picture brides and their part in Hawaiian history.
Ali Ahn's voice was so perfect I didn't let a few mispronunciations bother me.
I would highly recommend this book.
Long Tall Sally
As a book - yes. As an audiobook no. I was constantly irritated by the mispronunciation of the Hawaiian (both traditional and pidgin) languages. I was distracted from the story many times trying to place locations she was referring to - Punahou, Palama, Ewa to name just a few. It may be a good read for those not familiar to the language. I am 4th generation 'haole' from Hawaii and so love our 'chop suey' population, but there is even a great distinction between the native Hawaiian language and our local pidgin, neither spoken well in this audiobook.
Given that I did not have access to the book in hard bound cover, as I was listening to this I began to think that is was written as a true story that bordered on historical fact and story together.
The was extremely well written and the author did a fantastic job of depicting the lives of various characters that lived during that time frame. Thus, making me exceptionally glad that I was born in the modern time and in the US. To be Korean woman in the early 1900's definitely had its undue hardships towards the feminine. The excess of values that they held so dearly with their views are certainly ones that would not be tolerated in today's world.
This books moves along very quickly and continuously sparks ones emotions as the different events happen. Be prepared to listen and enjoy all the different emotions that pass through as you hear each event and imagine yourself in her shoes. I also now have a better concept of why some of the different cultures also have a lack of tolerance with each other and why.
Well done and highly recommended!
Listening to this book was an exercise in torture. I quit after the first half having tried to give the book a fair listen. I give up!
I have never written a review for audible.com before, but was so turned off by awful narration performed by Ali Ahn, who did not take the time or effort to learn how to correctly pronounce common Hawaiian names and words. What disrespect!
It turned a very good story into an exercise of "wait, WHAT did she say?" moment, kind of like taking a lovely stroll in the historic section of Hawai'i and oh no, stepping in a pile of dog stuff! And it kept happening over and over again.
As reviewer "Jeffrey" wrote, Ahn's mangled Hawai'ian was very distracting throughout the entire novel and made me wonder who is to blame for allowing Audible to destroy an otherwise well-written story. History came alive and then was bombed to pieces every time Ahn opened her mouth to say "Ha-na-LU-u", "Awa", "WahiAwa" and other horrid approximations of common Hawai'ian places.
If you think that mispronouncing common Hawai'ian names and words is not disrespectful and lazy on the part of the narrator then I can refer you to some other ghastly examples produced by Audible which you will probably enjoy.
But "Honolulu" one was the worst by far!
I was thinking of listening to "Molokai'i" but am going to take a break from audible books for now. At least in print, I don't have to listen to someone like Ali Ahn ruin a good book!
Just a new narrator!
I love Historical Fiction and Honolulu brought to light a little know history of Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th century.
No, I felt that the middle and end of the book were too long. I felt that the book should have ended long before it did. I felt that the end was wrapped up too perfectly.
Joyful, heart wrenching, and historical, with a view into a culture unimagined before my reading of this compelling tale.
The heart warming/breaking story tells of the journey of Jen from Korea to a Hawii in the early 1900's. It is a Hawii most of us are not familair with at all. The characters are well written and the story very moving. Honolulu is caught up in racial and social prejudices that are hard to over come by oneself. This story is about the need for family and community.
I really enjoyed listening to Honolulu. Ali Ahn was great at narrating the story and the book as a whole was facinating. I loved it! I am looking forward to listening to Molokai by the same author.
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
Although I liked Molokai better than this book;Honolulu wasn't bad either. This is really historical fiction, since we travel back in time to Hawaii just as America wrested it from the natives. They used Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and, as is the star of our story, Koreans to cut the sugarcane fields at the time.Our heroine is a young Korean picture bride who is at first thrust into this shocking poor life. Suddenly married to a cane cutter who drinks, gambles and beats her. She does everything to try and make herself useful and desirable, but in the end has to flee from her abusive husband. She runs into a hooker who helps her out temporarily and they become fast friends. She sees some torn dresses in the trash one morning and recalls how it was to sew back home with her mom. The hooker finds her skill quite good and she and the others begin paying her for her work. The hooker moves to Samoa and our heroine goes on to make her own way in a pineapple factory, where she meets her future husband. They have a family and open a Korean restaurant. There are many meeting between our heroine and her friends who also came along from Korea and had varying levels of success. Her former husband comes back to attack her and she rebuffs him and he is sent to jail. Her children learn to surf and become friends with the locals, who share their culture with them. The book proceeds through the Great Depression and the Koreans all manage to stay tightly together; each pursuing their version of the American dream. Later in life the heroine begins to make Hawaiian shirts for a Chinese businessman and they are very fortunate to succeed with this endeavor. She is employed as the factory manager for the man, but finds the work unfullfiling. She start her own modest sewing operation and finds greater happiness.The narrator was really good. She changes voices which gave the characters life and even though I didn't find this story as believable as Molokai it was pretty good. There were many characters and I usually don't like that, but here it was well paced and easy to follow and lots of threads were drawn to connect the costars with the heroine. I hope Mr. Brennert comes out with other books about the islands.