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Hula Paperback – January, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 3rd edition (January 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393035891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393035896
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,037,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her remarkable first novel, Shea hauntingly evokes the spirits and sensations of childhood. The lives of two sisters at the crossroads between childhood and adolescence are described in lyrical, hypnotic prose. Set in the early 1960s, nearly all the action takes place in the backyard of the girls' suburban Virginia home, to them a surreal, adventurous place in which they act out their wishes, hopes and dreams, and try to cope--often ritualistically--with family dysfunction. Their father, whose mind has been ravaged by war, is given to drunken gunplay and sudden explosions of rage. Their mother is whimsical and distant; the marriage is disintegrating. The girls are forced back upon their inner resources and each other for a sense of security. Convincingly portraying the budding sexuality of early adolescence in sometimes shocking situations, Shea re-creates the numinous landscape of childhood in which animals and vegetation possess immanent intelligence and personality. The nameless terrors in their home life counterpoints the irrepressible optimism that is native to childhood and that, Shea implies, can see children safely through the grimmest of circumstances, such as the searing climax of this quiet, expertly told novel.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This tale of the conflict between two sisters in the early 1960s marks the fiction debut of a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in such wide-ranging publications as Esquire , the New York Times Book Review , and People.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I was just blown away!
Patricia
At times, there were scenes added that didn't seem to add to the quality of the story or tell anything about the relationship between the sisters.
Roonie
Shea's prose is spare and evocative; her story is both beautiful and frightening.
Stuart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By IxGOTxFIAH@aol.com on January 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought hula off a table without thinking anything else about it but a simple summer read to pass time. It is by far one of the best books I have ever read. I think Lisa Shea's imagery of childhood is wonderful and almost disturbing. It makes one remember long since forgotten incidents and occurences of childhood. Brilliant.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eckhard Gerdes on August 27, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lisa Shea's novel explores further many of the themes she established with her brilliant earlier short fiction. There is something in reading her work which is akin to seeing the beauty of a hurricane destroying everything in its path.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "shomezahog" on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read Hula a few years ago, and I was looking around on Amazon to see if Shea had written anything else. Hula was such a great read that I want more from this twisted, talented author. Shea captures the story in small moments rather than lengthy, descriptive prose. The characters, especially the father (an incredibly disturbed man suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are sometimes difficult to understand, because Shea leaves enough to the imagination to make you wonder...this is a great book for people who do not need their literature spoon-fed to them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roonie on November 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read most of the reviews and also the first few pages of the book. It sounded like something that I would enjoy as the narrator, the younger sister, was believable and the tone rang familiar. I dove into the book one night and read and waited until it hit a climax or an interesting point. It never got there!

The book was not particularly well written: no distinctive imagery, no expected childhood roles or symbols, not even a bad metaphor, nothing. It was just one long, argument between sisters with occasional moments of them almost needing each other. The character development was sorely lacking. It was impossible understand the depth or breadth of the father's mental illness or anything related to why the mother stayed. The children seemed to have material goods (and tap lessons) but it was not evident where they made their money if the father was mentally ill. If it was the mother, working for the theater, then were the kids left alone with the father? Is that why it seems the majority of the book they seem to be in hiding?

At times, there were scenes added that didn't seem to add to the quality of the story or tell anything about the relationship between the sisters. What is up with the guy who stuttered? Why the "mother cat" who fell into the basement?

The book was a big disappointment. I wish I could ask for my money back. Don't waste your time on this purchase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia on December 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am a novelist and lover of literary fiction who has never written a book review before. I was inspired to do so by Hula. Shea's lyrical, unsentimental prose gives immense punch to this tale. I was just blown away!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christine Urbanek on December 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a book I constantly buy and give to others, starting with my sisters. Sensitive and spot on, this is a tale of the modern family gone awry as seen through the eyes of two sister trying to grow up in spite of their circumstance. Their story unfolds as if accidentally. A truly brilliant book. Those of us from less than perfect childhoods will see our experiences here and will cringe with the recognition.
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By Michael D. Thompson on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read Hula a few years ago and it has haunted me so much that every so often I have searched it out on my bookshelf and re-read it from beginning to end. It has a mesmerizing lyrical minimalism that yet packs emotional insight into the twilight limbo of puberty. Like a punch to the gut, you don't always see it coming. This is an amazing little novel.
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Format: Paperback
A story of growing up. Two sisters share (almost) everything. On the way up and out of adolescence and an abusive, but not startlingly so, father figure. Short and sweet. Told by a 9-year old girl thru 2 summers in the `60's.
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