Author: Alan Brennert
464 pages, published 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: purchased for myself
Honolulu is the rich, unforgettable story of a young “picture bride” who journeys to Hawai'i in 1914 in search of a better life.
of the affluent young husband and chance at an education that she has
been promised, she is quickly married off to a poor, embittered laborer
who takes his frustrations out on his new wife. Renaming herself Jin,
she makes her own way in this strange land, finding both opportunity and
prejudice. With the help of three of her fellow picture brides, Jin
prospers along with her adopted city, now growing from a small
territorial capital into the great multicultural city it is today. But
paradise has its dark side, whether it’s the daily struggle for survival
in Honolulu’s tenements, or a crime that will become the most infamous
in the islands’ history...
With its passionate knowledge of people and places in Hawai'i far off the tourist track, Honolulu
is most of all the spellbinding tale of four women in a new world,
united by dreams, disappointment, sacrifices, and friendship.
If anyone asks me for a book recommendation, Brennert's other novel Moloka'i is at the top of my list (here's my review). So, I was super excited to read Honolulu. I was not disappointed!! This novel is absolutely stunning. Absolutely beautiful writing, characters I absolutely love, and a life spanning story that tugged at my heart. I devoured this book. I wanted to finish it to know what happened, but yet didn't want it to end. My heart ached for Jin during her relationship with Mr. Noh, and rejoiced with her in her successes later in the book.
In addition to all this, the book taught me so much history about Hawaii and Honolulu! This book is an example of what I love so much about historical fiction--you learn so much in addition to falling in love with the story and the characters. We think of Hawaii as such a glamorous place, and this book helps you understand its struggles and triumphs throughout its history.
I highly recommend this book. This book has definitely made it to my all time favorites list (though I did like Moloka'i slightly more) and will easily be one of my most recommended books because it is such a beautifully written and emotional story. My hope is that Brennert writes another wonderful novel set in the islands in the future! I want more!!
Overall rating for "Honolulu": Five Stars
Aloha and Happy Reading!