BookBrowse Reviews Honolulu by Alan Brennert

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Honolulu

by Alan Brennert

Honolulu
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2010, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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An absorbing study of early 20th century Asian culture in Hawaii as seen through the eyes of a Korean woman

A well-written historical novel can so mesmerize readers that they come to feel they understand what it was like to live in a past era, as if they have truly experienced the sights, smells and cultures of a time and place beyond their personal knowledge. In Honolulu, author Alan Brennert succeeds brilliantly in this goal.

At first, the plot of Honolulu may seem overly familiar. Readers have encountered protagonists in similar circumstances on the pages of many recent bestselling novels (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, the works of Amy Tan). Even after the main character reaches Hawaii, much of the plot is predictable. Brennert's writing, however, is so compelling that readers soon find they are unable to put the book down. Fortunately, its story departs from the expected after the first five chapters or so, after which it becomes an absorbing study of Asian ...

Back-Story
Honolulu grew out of Alan Brennert's research for his previous novel, Moloka'i.

"One of the most colorful periods of modern Hawaiian history was the so-called 'glamour days' of the 1920s and 1930s," Alan explains. "This was a time period I couldn't really explore in depth in Moloka'i, since my main characters were in isolation at Kalaupapa. Where Moloka'i was principally about Native Hawaiians, Honolulu is more about the immigrant experience in Hawai'i, and the origins of its unique multicultural society."

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