Let me begin by saying that I didn't finish this particular young adult novel. I learned this evening that setting matters more than I could have imagined.
Strange Relations for more information.)
Review: I actually picked this book up at our local library here in Kahuku. The book was standing along the top of the bookcase holding the YA fiction, and not with the Hawaiiana fiction, which should have been a big clue to me. Neither here nor there at this point, I picked up the book and thought that I'd read a YA book set in Hawaii for the fun of it. In an effort to clear out the last of the books I checked out here for the summer, I started reading this quick-paced novel this evening, but quickly realized it was nothing like I thought.
Although the novel is not necessarily claiming to be representing anything Hawaiian (which it doesn't), it was a little deceptive. The inside cover says that the story is set, "against Oahu's lush backdrop." That's really about it, and that's about all I saw. In brief, it is a story that uses the Hawaii of a screensaver or Hollywood movie, and uses that as the setting. That's totally fine! Honest. I just had to pull myself back from my initial reaction of offense. I will admit that the Hawaii that I know, is not really Waikiki centered. The Hawaii I know has more to it than beautiful scenery and breathtaking sunsets; there is a culture that permeates and moves everything on the islands. It was the energy and the life-style of Hawaii that was missing, and I had to resign myself to the island being a "backdrop" and nothing more. Once again, that's fine, but one has to be ready to know that.
Lest I make this book sound shallow, I have to back up and say that there seemed to be a great message about reconnecting with the young protagonist's Jewish heritage that she had lost. There also was a story of grief and loss that drove her to Hawaii to heal that was building steadily. Overall, it is a book that had a message and story to deliver, and the setting was merely meant to charm the reader along the way. If you're interested, check it out. In any other circumstance, not bewitched by Hawaii in a pretty personal way, I would have read the novel in a very different way.
Have you ever read a novel that was set somewhere you loved? What happened if they didn't capture it for you?