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Freelove: a novel Paperback – March 15, 2016
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About the Author
Sia Figiel's groundbreaking first novel, where we once belonged, won the prestigious 1997 Commonwealth Writer's Prize, Best First Book for the South East Asia - South Pacific region. Other notable works: The Girl in the Moon Circle, They Who Do Not Grieve and Freelove. Ms. Figiel also appeared on the amplified poetry CD TERENESIA with scholar and poet Teresia Teaiwa. She is also the author of the prose-poetry collection: To A Young Artist in Contemplation.
Top customer reviews
I couldn’t help but think of Margaret Mead and Derek Freeman as Inosia Alofafua Afatasi, a 17 ½ year-old girl/young woman, and Ioage Viliamu, her science teacher, make love not once, but four times in solitude from any other people deep in the forest near a lake in their home of Western Samoa. This, after Ioage makes first moves on Inosia not two hours before in his red pickup truck. Yet what drives Mead and Freeman far away (thank goodness) is Inosia’s complete voice and ownership throughout her story.
Inosia’s voice is unique to any I’ve read before: simultaneously insightful and so young, funny, witty and intelligent, and striving – striving to learn, striving to grow, striving to figure out what she wants, who she is, and what that means in the context of her village and family. So while a significant portion of the book read to me like young romance erotica, it was Inosia’s voice and thoughts that held everything together; that, and her cerebral and spiritual explorations with Ioage about what it means for them to be Samoan and to make their choices and grow into who they are, now, given connections to their past that includes a colonial past, and their present, a present that is heavy with the expectations and taboos of their village, their family, and their Samoa. Inosia and Ioage are breaking several taboos in their love: they are student-teacher and sister-brother (Ioage is the pastor’s son, which makes him Inosia’s spiritual brother), and Inosia insists on becoming impregnated by Ioage. All of this would result in incredible punishment, yet… Yet Inosia and Ioage persevere with their secret love. Yet Inosia insists on her story – on making the choices she wants for her life, choices that include having Ioage’s baby, going to UCLA to become a physicist, and always finding deep connections between the present and science and her ancestors’ past, and connecting that to who she is. We can speculate on what Inosia’s and Ioage’s futures might be, but regardless of this, Inosia’s spirit and her insistence on her story resonates hope.
Sia seeks and finds supernova radiance with Ioane Viliamu, as they both refuse to be governed by concerns about typified social roles, their respective plots, and narrative trajectories – what is to be expected – by engaging in a playful call-and-response in mind, body, and spirit. Figiel gives Sia and Ioane time to speak, and we find their authority and evolving agency and sense of self, together and eventually apart, in pages of dialogue and letters that allow them to become vulnerable, share wounds and remedies. Readers are gifted narrative intimacy and permitted to witness how Sia and Ioane reach beyond their time together – into their memories, teachings, genealogies, cosmos – to discover and grasp, and keep holding onto, their shared decolonial love.