Three Years on Doreen's Sofa Kindle Edition
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The cast of characters is unforgettable. The local Hawaii flavor comes through loud and clear, but people everywhere will be able to relate to the social issues the author touches on. The story is told in Pidgin, but the author toned it down enough that it's easy to read. There is A LOT of swearing, but even that is forgivable. This hilarious, tragic tale touched something deep inside me, became a part of me, and I know it will stay with me forever.
One of the things I loved the most about Three Years on Doreen's Sofa was how realistically Bobby was portrayed. Things that might not be common sense to you or I were completely normal to him - such as categorizing cigarettes and slushies as being essentials for living. He struggles against the rules that his sister/cousin Doreen (yes, it's complicated) has set out for him and, it's not just a struggle to obey those rules; rather, it's a struggle to understand a rules structure in the first place. But he longs for something more and he is so generous when it comes to money he really doesn't have.
I've had some experience with addicts in my lifetime. While I was reading about Bobby and feeling caught up in his haphazard lifestyle, I kept flashing back to that time in my life and comparing behaviors. Cataluna is so spot on in her descriptions and what makes this book so fantastic is that there is absolutely no judgmental writing - instead, it's really, really hard to not like Bobby and to feel sympathy for the poor guy. I wanted to swoop in and to try to make everything better for him and I felt so much hurt that he couldn't do what he wanted to do to help his sister/cousin out - because of all the themes in the book, generosity was one of the most prevailing.
Something else I noticed, and this ties in well to the other Hawaiiana books I've read, is the large present of a deceased grandmother. Bobby's grandma comes back to speak to him in various dreams/dazes/dozes/pill-induced hazes and always is smacking him around and telling him to get a grip on life. This has been an interesting theme I've followed through the three books I've read and, I think, might possibly lead into some interesting research.
So I want to conclude this by saying that if your book club wants something different - something away from the run of the mill, best-selling books (new or old), then why not check out Three Years on Doreen's Sofa? I think it provides a wealth of material for chatting about, gives a different view of island life (it's not all paradise, folks), and also might challenge your readers without being too obtuse. You may have to look up some Hawaiian words, but that's part of the fun!