MOTIVATION for READING: For my real life book club, The Bookies, due November 29, 2010. I downloaded to my iPad and read it on my annual trip to Kansas for Opening Day of Pheasant Hunting. (I don’t go hunting; I read.)
FIRST SENTENCE: “When I was a young child growing up in Korea, it was said that the image of the facing moon at daybreak, reflected in a pond or stream or even a well, resembled the speckled shell of a dragon’s egg.”
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A fictionalized account of true events that happened in Honolulu between the first World Wars told through the eyes of a Korean woman who signed up to be a mail-order ‘picture’ bride.
WHAT’s GOOD: It’s all good. My attention was instantly caught and my interest never wavered.
WHAT’s NOT so GOOD: It’s never quite ‘great’. It was almost TOO full of true stuff! About half-way, I was curious if some of the characters were ‘real’ and I was astonished to discover just how many TRUTHs were shoved into this book! By the end, I was getting the feeling that the author had a long list of people and events he wanted to capture and couldn’t cut from the narrative. In that regard, I can’t say it didn’t work. But it got a bit tiresome? And then this happens, then this happens…. Sequential and memoirish.
I am so out of practice here! I can’t think at all of how/what I want to say next but it’s something along the lines of emotional-manipulation but not that strong… I felt that as a reader, I was told how to feel. Is manipulation the correct word? Maybe because I didn’t disagree with the emotions that it didn’t feel forced on me exactly but it was obvious that I was supposed to not agree with how the white people treated the ‘locals’ of Hawaii. Yea, I get that. Just more saying it than showing it, perhaps… And one more thing – the narrator was TOO likeable, if that makes any sense. She seemed too good. That doesn’t even make sense to me, but I stand by it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: So, I liked it well enough. It was a fast read; I enjoyed learning about things I didn’t know; I would recommend this to many people if they like historical fiction. But I can’t in good conscience claim it to be great literature. But hey! Who says I have to only read great literature?!
RATING: Three stars. I do want to read Molokai, Brennert’s other highly-rated historical fiction novel set in Hawaii.
A road need not be paved in gold to find treasure at its end.