Friday, March 20, 2009

Review: Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Book Info:
Honolulu by Alan Brennert
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 3, 2009)
ISBN: 9780312360405
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

In search of a better life, Jin, a young "picture bride", leaves her native Korea and journeys to Hawai'i in 1914. Much to her dismay, Jin is married off to a poor laborer who beats her, forcing her to make her own way in a strange land. Struggling to build a business, Jin finds opportunity and prejudice, but ultimately transforms herself from a naive young girl into a resourceful woman in a great metropolis. But Jin can never forget the people she left behind in Korea and returns to make peace with her past.

Shining light on a little known time in America's history, Honolulu is a glorious novel of the triumphs and sacrifices of the human spirit.

I've heard such wonderful things about Moloka'i, which has been languishing on my shelves for quite a while, that I was excited when a friend got a review copy of Honolulu. It didn't quite live up to my expectations though.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, when Jin was a young girl in Korea. I found the descriptions of the different customs fascinating, and could really picture the living conditions and the limitations placed on girls. This part of the book moved really fast for me, and I didn't want to set it down.

After Jin travels to Hawai'i, the book started to slow down for me. I still enjoyed the story, but often found myself having a hard time picturing the houses and plantations. Maybe this is because I've been to Honolulu, and I have a hard time picturing it any other way.

Jin is a strong character, and her strength comes through, often in striking contrast to other Asian women of the time. I enjoyed how Jin's story was intertwined with the friends she made in Hawai'i, but sometimes I felt overwhelmed by all the secondary characters.

Honolulu is well researched and I would recommend it to historical fiction fans looking for something a little different. 3.5 stars

Order Honolulu


Sandy Nawrot said...

The cover is would have attracted my attention. With everything I have waiting for me, I most likely would not pick it up. Thanks for the review!

Darlene said...

Nice review. It does sound like an intersting story. Like Sandy, I like the cover too.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Honolulu and Handle With Care are the next 2 books on my list. I loved Molokai by Brennert, and am hoping I LOVE Honolulu. Thanks 4 the post.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Every time I read the name Jin, I had to think of the character on LOST.

Lotus Reads said...

I just started listening to this book (via audible) this morning and am enjoying it so far. Have you read Brennert's previous novel, "
Molokai"? It's a must-read if you haven't!

Melissa said...

Lotus: I haven't read Molokai yet, but it's on my shelves.