Honolulu ~ Alan Brennert

Rating: H H H H H
ISBN: 978-0312606343
Pages: 431
Year: 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Book Blurb:
“In Korea in those days, newborn girls were not deemed important enough to be graced with formal names, but were instead given nicknames, which often reflected the parents’ feelings on the birth of a daughter: I knew a girl named Anger, and another called Pity. As for me, my parents named me Regret.”

Honolulu is the rich, unforgettable story of a young “picture bride” who journeys to Hawai'i in 1914 in search of a better life.

Instead 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.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely LOVED this novel! Once again, Alan Brennert was able to masterfully transport me to another place and time. He has a remarkable talent of transporting you to the island with his lush descriptions. I was totally hooked from start to finish - it was next to impossible for me to put this novel down! The characters were spectacularly written, both the fictitious and those based on real people, I loved how he intertwined parts of true history into this work of fiction.

I adored Regret or Jin as she called herself upon her arrival in Honolulu. She goes through so many struggles in the novel, first in her native Korea, then as a picture bride brought to the island by false promises only to find herself trapped in an abusive marriage, then finally to the struggles she faced as she set out on her own, a woman in a foreign country with little money and nowhere to go. She is brave, creative, fiercely independent and determined to make it.  

Although the story is written from the point of view from one woman, it represents the struggle for all immigrants who went to Hawai'i during its territorial period. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipinos - they all came to Hawai'i to escape something, be it poverty, social oppression or simply to seek a better life. The life they imagined couldn't be further from the truth. When they arrived there was backbreaking labour on the plantations, brutal treatment from the white overseers as well as the racial hostilities they face.

Another home run for Alan Brennert! I recommend this to anyone who is looking for an amazing read! 

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