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Honolulu Paperback – February 2, 2010
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Honolulu weaves the true tales of life on Oahu in the early part of the twentieth century with Regret's new life as an unfortunately abused young bride. Regret (who renames herself Jin) is a fiercely independent, strong young woman who constantly strives to better her circumstances; she leaves her abusive husband, despite her careful Korean training to always submit, and uses her seamstress skills to earn some money. As with all lives, Jin's has its moments of love and loss; Brennert allows Jin to tell us of her woes, dreams, triumphs, and ideas herself, and he does an excellent job of using her voice to show how oppressed the working poor actually were on this island paradise. Brennert also peoples this novel with colorful characters as well as real people, and Jin often finds herself at or near the center of some of the gravest situations of the times.
Brennert's research is impeccable and this is a book that will pull you in from the first.Read more ›
Regret's childhood days in Korea and her relationship with a courtesan, who teaches her to read, are key to her character's desire to escape the drudgery of servitude expected of Korean girls.
Once she lands in Hawaii, she finds the streets are not paved with gold. She meets her new husband, endures horrors, and hardships, and continues undaunted to follow her dreams. She begins to use the name Jin.
Jin runs into a wide cast of real-life historical characters, but Brennert weaves them into his plot with emotion, and the reader comes away feeling enlightened as well as moved by the experiences. Hawaii, ever the land of immigrants, has not always been kind to newcomers. The strength of the locals, the growth of the "haole" thinking, and the ever-industrious spirit of the newcomers weave a charming, if sometimes overly expository, tale.
There are memorable lines throughout. My favorite is Jin's mother's explanation of grief: (Speaking of a quilt with black rectangles) "I added these on the day my mother died. . . There is no pattern to where I placed them, as there is no sense to be made of death. . .next to them the blues look bluer, the reds richer, the golds more brilliant. Withoutthem the cloth is pretty, but without character or contrast." Wisdom entwined in colorful language adds another reason to read this book.
I am always impressed when a male writer tells a story from a female point of view and makes it work. In "Honolulu", Alan Brennart has done his considerable research proud, and woven a fictional story in with historical events to create a seamless, very readable tale of a Korean woman of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and her many family connections, both by blood and friendship.
Jin is a dutiful child of an upper-middle-class Korean family in a small city, who enters the world as an unwanted daughter named "Regret" (because she wasn't a son). Bright and inquisitive by nature, she longs to go to school like her brothers, but to do so would bring shame on her family. By subterfuge and her sympathizing aunt's aid, she finds someone who teaches her how to read; but when her father learns of it, the result is not what Jin had hoped for. She languishes, frustrated, within the confines of her family's home, with only a young sister-in-law-in-training for company.
Her bid to break free comes when she learns of the "picture brides", essentially mail-order brides for Korean men in Hawaii. She overcomes her family's strenuous objections to her desire to become a "picture bride", and embarks upon her greatest adventure, in the company of four other Korean girls.
This is a book that was difficult to put down, as I travelled with Jin through the Hawaii of early non-Hawaiian occupation. The governing of the Hawaiian nation had been connived away from the Hawaiian royal family not many years before; the power was in the hands of a handful of white overlords and the sugar- and pineapple-companies, the labour provided by immigrant, primarily Asian, laborers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very engaging and full of history combined with a story. We spend a lot of time in the Hawaiian Islands, so I try to read as much as I can. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Sydney Clough
I truly enjoyed this book. I have been to Hawaii 3 times and never knew much about the history of the people there. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Renee B. Hembree-Bey
This story spans the cultural and social evolution of a young Korean girl,s life. Her journey from a small village in Korea to the territory of Hawaii, in the early 20th... Read morePublished 23 days ago by coco- VT
Loved this book. It is one of those books you can't wait to get back to.Published 1 month ago by claudine valle
I've read it twice now and it's just as good as the first time. Easy read on the train tooPublished 2 months ago by Brigette Petersen
This read more more like a history book about the general culture of Hawaii than an actual novel. The characters were very flat and dispassionate to read about. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kat
Really enjoyed the story - so interesting to hear how the various immigrant groups came to Hawaii and what their lives were like early on.Published 2 months ago by Parsnips