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Advance reader reviews of The Lion in the Lei Shop

The Lion in the Lei Shop

by Kaye Starbird

The Lion in the Lei Shop
  • Readers' rating:

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  • Published in USA  Jun 2013
    276 pages
    Genre: Novels

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There are currently 19 member reviews
for The Lion in the Lei Shop
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  • Beth T. (Savannah, GA)


    What A Treasure!
    If this book hadn't been reissued as one of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust classics, I might never have read it, and what a shame that would have been. This book is, quite simply, a treasure. I wasn't yet born when Pearl Harbor happened, so I was fascinated by the descriptions of life before and after the bombing, enriched even more by viewpoints from both Marty and her mother (and others). I was terribly sorry when the book ended. Highly recommend!!
  • Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)


    an exciting read!
    Nancy Pearl, of Book Lust fame, has undertaken a wondrous project: helping worthy out-of-print books become available once again.

    Kaye Starbird's The Lion in the Lei Shop is one of these treasures. A young girl, Marty, is evacuated to the mainland after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She and her mother face multiple challenges as they wait for the war to end and for Marty's serviceman father to return. In addition, Marty is haunted by what a bully had told her about a man-eating lion in the lei shop near her former home.

    The book covers ground not often dealt with: it's vibrant and fascinating. It's the best book of fiction I've read yet this year.

    I am so appreciative of Nancy Pearl's quest! I've ordered all the other books available in this important series.
  • Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)


    War through different eyes
    This book is a reprint of an out-of-print book written in 1970 by Kaye Starbird. It begins on December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, and details the lives of the wives and children of the soldiers stationed at Scofield Barracks. Most history books deal with the effects on the soldiers, more so than on their families, making this novel different in that regard. It was a narrative in the voice of 5-year old Marty, she with the fear of lions in lei shops, and of her pregnant mother, April. Marty, of course, does not understand what is happening and why her father is no longer coming home; and April is devastated to find herself alone without him, with no way to know how long he will be gone and when or if he will even return. How much better to be able to count the days, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you can't count infinity. Their experiences through each of their eyes, and their interactions with the other women and children, and the decisions those individuals make under very trying circumstances, add up to an entertaining and thought-provoking read, well-written and ageless in its presentation.
  • Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)


    Lion in the Lei Shop
    A very well written book. The author's use of an alternating narrative between the mother and her young daughter is an interesting way of showing how a young child's understanding and reaction to a life changing event, in this case the attack on Pearl Harbor, may be very different than an adult's . I enjoyed the book very much.
  • Elaine M. (Beaver Falls, PA)


    The Lion in the Lei Shop
    This was an interesting two-voice adventure of the life of an Army family stationed in Hawaii during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and their relocation to San Fransisco to await the return of their deployed husband-father. Most post war stories are about internments of the Japanese-Americans. It was interesting to read of American service families that were living in Hawaii at the time and the sacrifices that they had to make.
    This would be a good young adult book selection for this period of history. Book clubs would find this an interesting read to compare to internment reads.
    This was a compelling story for me because before reading this, I previewed Sophie Littlefield's internment book "Garden of Stone".
    In both stories, the voice was that of the mother and daughter and the books showed the different treatment and problems of Americans after Pearl Harbor.
    I truly enjoyed this easy read because it showed Americans, in Hawaii ,displaced due safety reasons; a concept that I never heard mentioned in the history and stories of the Pearl Harbor aftermath.
  • Laura P. (Atlanta, GA)


    The Lion in the Lei Shop
    This novel is one of a group of out-of-print books selected for reprinting by NPR's Nancy Pearl.

    April and her 5-year-old daughter Marty are living in Hawaii with April's soldier husband Lang on December 7, 1941when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Lang is of course immediately pulled away to military duties, while his wife and daughter are moved around the island for their safety and then shipped home. The story, told in the voices of April and Marty, retells the events of the bombing and the war years spent in April's native New England. Author Kay Starbird does a beautiful job of contrasting the memories of events held by April and her 5-year-old, and of highlighting the nature of memory itself. She also portrays the pain and uncertainty faced by families with a member at war with great compassion and understanding. The lion in the lei shop is a character is Marty's recurring war nightmare; her resolution of his continued appearance is a poignant moment. The book is beautifully written, by turns poignant and funny. I'm sorry it had to end.
  • Jeanette L. (Marietta, GA)


    The Lion in the Lei Shop
    This is the story of military families in Hawaii just after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The book is written from the point of view of the mother April and the daughter Marty who is 5 years old and doesn't really understand the consequences of war and why her father does not come home for weekends and holidays, she feels abandoned by her deployed Army officer father.

    April, and Marty with hundreds of other women and children, are evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world, in their case to Boston to Marty's grandparents. Everything is new to her and even snowflakes frighten her as she thinks "the Japs are here in Boston and they're throwing something bad and white down out of the sky." April's view is more a day to day waiting for the war to be over and the men to come home not knowing when that would be. This is a story of mothers and daughters, their hopes and fears and the devastation of war. The Lion in the Lei Shop is an imaginary fabrication that torments Marty's sleep causing her screaming nightmares.

    This is a wonderful story beautifully written.
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