Set in the 1920s and 1930s, Honolulu explores the stark contrast between the image of the glamorous Hawaiian paradise portrayed to the mainland and the harsh reality of life on the island. With characters as vivid and richly descriptive as the history of Hawaii itself, this novel is sure to enthrall listeners.
©2009 Alan Brennert; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
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.
Loved the Korean history of Honolulu, which I had known nothing about. Downside was the narration of events in second half of book. It would have been more interesting for me to have had such events shared through plot development. I felt at times like I was listening to a news broadcast vs reading a novel.
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