Summary and book reviews of The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird

The Lion in the Lei Shop

by Kaye Starbird

The Lion in the Lei Shop
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 276 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2013, 292 pages

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Book Summary

Spanning the tumultuous war years, The Lion in the Lei Shop deftly recaptures a dramatic chapter of American history, giving a rarely-heard voice to the women and children of Pearl Harbor.

Paperback Original

Marty Langsmith is only five years old when a strange thunder rolls across the Hawaiian sky and life as she knows it explodes into flames. With her mother, April, and hundreds of other women and children, Marty is evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world overshadowed by uncertainty and grief. Feeling abandoned by her deployed Army officer father in the wake of the attack, Marty is haunted by nightmares of the lion in the lei shop, a creature that's said to devour happy children. But as the years pass, mother and daughter slowly begin to embrace their new life and make peace with the pain of the past.

Spanning the tumultuous war years, The Lion in the Lei Shop deftly recaptures a dramatic chapter of American history.

Originally published in 1970 and reissued for a new generation of readers as part of renowned librarian Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries series, this lyrical novel gives a rarely heard voice to the women and children of Pearl Harbor.

CHAPTER ONE
MARTY



"I don't want to hear about my father!" I said. "I don't want to hear about him! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT HIM!"

I was shouting at my mother. We were sitting by the swimming pool in the spring sunset, and everything about the evening had been relaxed and pleasant until my mother mentioned my father.

"You're getting to look like him," she said as I pulled up my skirt to keep it from getting wet. "Your hair is turning dark and so are your eyes." She watched me splashing my feet in the pool.

"You sit like him, too," she added.

That's when I did the shouting. It surprised both of us.

Mother stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray on her chair arm. She twisted it round and round and round, long after the red coal blackened and fell apart.

"What's wrong with you, Marty?" She was shocked, but she was also puzzled. "What's come over you all of a sudden? Why don't you want to hear about your father?" Her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

As those who bore witness to Pearl Harbor die off, a book like The Lion in the Lei Shop becomes even more important. It has fortuitously been reissued so that the memories of this time will not be lost. Beautifully written, it elucidates the tragic effects of the attack on a mother and her young child, and its future repercussions on them both   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Author Blurb Helen Bryan, bestselling author of War Brides
The Lion in the Lei Shop is a rediscovered treasure of a book that I cannot recommend highly enough. Written with insight, restraint, and flashes of humor, the story of April and Marty is the story of mothers and daughters, friendship, war, love, loss, the reliability of memory and the triumph of the human spirit. I could not put it down

Reader Reviews

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...   Read More

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...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries Series

Nancy Pearl Action FigureNancy Pearl has a librarian action figure created in her likeness. You know she must be a dynamic, popular person with that kind of claim to fame!

And she is. A librarian and bookseller for years, Pearl's knowledge of and passion for books are both wide and deep. She loves books – this is clear – and she is dedicated to finding the just right book for the right reader. She is known, in fact, for her refreshing lack of pretense. She is not out to get you to read the most prestigious book she can find, but instead wants to connect you with the book that you will most adore. She believes the enjoyment of reading is the foundation for literacy, and she has offered that the more a person reads, the more quality books he or she ...

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