We all dream about running away from dreary boring jobs, especially during the cold winters, and landing in a tropical paradise (Saipan) with gorgeous beaches, swaying palms, and warm balmy breezes right off the blue, blue lagoon. For some travelers that are flexible and easy-going, it can become a reality, others have a tough time adjusting to a different culture, high humidity, lack of conveniences, and everything is falling apart and rusting out...and oh yeah, graft and corruption. Our protagonist Nina Barker ends up in the middle of this adjustment after her boyfriend Max broke her heart back on the mainland. She of course, takes up SCUBA, karoke, "boonie stomping," eating katsu and bats,and drinking too many cold beers; and finds a couple of boyfriends, one being a kind-hearted doctor, and the other just useless jetsam from a screwed-up life. In her job as a fledging lawyer, she finds herself dealing with 'gray' areas in helping her assigned judge make decisisons, which often seem a long, scary stretch from integrity. But she prevails and gets her life kinda back together. I liked it and found Nina an interesting character with a lot of hilarity and quirkiness in the novel. One classic line while Nina is thinking about herself in the islands, "What have I turned into? A bolero-wearing, suburban-mom-haired, fish-eating, rule-following cheater..." Buy it!
This is a great novel. The plot in brief: Nina, a depressive late-20s lawyer, comes to the end of both her job (fired) and relationship (catches the guy cheating) and moves to the fictional island of Mirimar. There, she works for a judge intent on dispensing personalized, tribal justice under the guise of a common law legal system while becoming romantically involved with both a nice-but-ultimately-boring-doctor and a not-so-nice-but-damn-exciting cad who claims to be a CIA agent. The book is laugh-out-loud funny in a number of places and involving enough that I read it in a single afternoon. But it's not a featherweight comic novel. Instead, it's a rather serious literary effort that examines the balance between desiring adventure, change, and novelty and being scared--even terrified--when one actually finds it. Well worth reading.
This is an amusing look at life on a little piece of America in the Pacific. As a lawyer who has lived 29 years on Guam and who has visited Saipan many times, I can swear to the truth of these experiences. The author must be an optimist, becuase she leaves out the tragic aspects of the cultural situation she describes. It is genuinely funny, however, and will definitely lift your spirits. Well worth the trouble.
What a quirky, well-written, funny, lovely book. I loved it! The story of a very well educated, intellectual, somewhat neurotic, searching young woman pulled at my heartstrings, made me laugh out loud and caused me to want to hold Nina and tell her that everything will be OK. How many of us, searching for ourselves and our place in this life, would be brave enough to go alone to a not-very-well-known tropical isle on the other side of the world, where we didn't know anyone, to try to "work it out?" Not many...but Nina did and had hilarious, interesting adventures along the way. I didn't want the story to end and look forward to the author's next book.
I felt so many emotions while reading this book. It brought back memories of lost boyfriends, wanting to run away to a new and different place where everything would be perfect, feeling completely out of place and awkward and eventually moving to a new ground of acceptance. The novel creates an environment where a young girl can grow into a wiser and independent woman. It was both funny and poigniant and the tropical island culture gave the reader a glimpse of the excentricities of living a bit over the edge. I loved it.