Monthly Archives: March 2015

‘TOURISTS’ BY LEHUA PARKER

‘Tourists’ is one of the tales in Lehua Parker’s Lauele Town Series. It is also a companion book to the acclaimed Niuhi Shark Saga.

TOURISTS

 Summary

All Hawaiians know that when the sun goes down it is wise to stay out of the water. But some visitors simply can’t resist the ocean’s gentle waves. Just like the location scout from Hollywood who, after a week spent on searching for a perfect piece of Brazil on Oahu, couldn’t turn down the man’s offer. Well, it’s only a swim in the moonlight. And he’s kinda cute. Nothing bad can happen…

But Hawaiians also know that you can’t disrespect ancient cultures. When you take a stone from a sacred place, sooner or later you will be punished.

Review

Most readers associate Lehua Parker with middle-grade literature. She is, after all, the author of the famous Niuhi Shark Saga – one of the best book series geared toward a young audience. And, it must be noted, she truly excels at this particular genre. Her age-appropriate narratives are beautifully constructed, stimulating, and absolutely gripping. To put it simply, she really knows her craft.

That being said, you may be somewhat surprised to find out that Lehua Parker’s latest addition to the Lauele Town Stories is nowhere near the ‘MG fiction’ category – ‘Tourists’ is a tale intended for adults. Rich in symbolism and filled with mystery, it takes readers – rational, grown-up readers – on a rather unusual and definitely unforgettable journey to Hawaii – a familiar yet strange place where reality intertwines with magic.

I have to admit that the concept of incorporating local lore into the plot was quite a bold move, especially when you take into account the genre switch. Not very often does such underlying theme appear in literature written for those over…let’s say the age of 18. Well, you can’t treat a story in which one of the protagonists is a man-shark seriously, can you? Despite this obvious ‘unrealness’, the narrative is certainly not a fable; even if it teaches a moral lesson. Yes, not only did Mrs Parker embellish ‘Tourists’ with a pinch of mythology, but she also decided to use the tale as a reminder of life’s essential truths and fundamental principles. Through the two main characters, she wonderfully portrays the clash of modern and traditional values. ‘The Hollywood lady’ (what a fitting sobriquet!) is a more than accurate representation of the contemporary, cynical world where there’s this common belief that the right amount of money can get you everything you want and need. You don’t have to ask, you don’t have to plead. You just state your request and pay. And then there’s Kalei – a symbol of morality and decency who punishes the wrongdoers, making sure they suffer the consequences of their actions.

In the narrative the line between right and wrong is clearly visible. If only the distinction could be made just as easily in real life…

Those who’ve had a chance to read other titles in the Lauele Town series surely know what to expect from this story in terms of language and style. As you can imagine, it is beautifully written. Despite leisurely pace, the narration flows smoothly, keeping you engaged from the beginning to the very end. Poetic descriptions set the mood and the use of Hawaiian words, which you will have no trouble understanding, adds authenticity. All these, along with the aura of mystery that lingers over Keikikai beach, makes this short tale a truly worthy read.

I’m not sure ‘Tourists’ will let you experience the aloha spirit. But there is one thing I can guarantee you: you will never regret immersing yourself in Lehua Parker’s imaginary world.

‘SNIFF’ BY LEHUA PARKER

‘Sniff’ is the second title in Lehua Parker’s Lauele Town Series. It’s a short tale that revolves around a Hawaiian boy and his hidden, closely guarded secret.

SNIFF

Summary

A young resident of Lauele Town, Kona Inoye, has a problem he cannot tell anyone about. Neither his parents nor his friends appear to have any idea that there is something under the boy’s bed. Something that craves sweet, clean, and nice-smelling things.

Kona does his best to deal with the difficult situation. But it’s not always easy, especially when mama tells him to bathe and put on fresh clothes. The boy knows that this time simply eating onions may not be enough to…survive.

Review

According to the official definition, a book series comprises publications that share a common theme, settings, or set of characters. So, let’s see what we can say about the Lauele Town Stories. Common theme? No. Common settings? Yes. Common set of characters? Well, yes and no. Is it a book series then? It is. A very interesting one. Lehua Parker certainly knows how to draw readers attention. Whenever you reach for one of her tales, you aren’t quite sure what to expect.

Apart from being set in the same fictional Hawaiian town, the narratives show no other similarities. ‘Birth’ is a wonderful novella that provides the background to Zader’s story, giving you a little more information regarding the characters you might know from the famous Niuhi Shark Saga. In ‘Sniff’ everything is new. New but just as unusual. The protagonist, Robert Konahele Inoye, appears to be an ordinary boy who leaves dirty socks on the floor, hates making his bed, and steals Oreo cookies from the kitchen cupboard. However, as you read through the pages, his chilling secret slowly unravels and you realize this tale goes deeper than you might have initially thought.

But how ‘serious’ can a story about some beast hiding under a child’s bed be? Well, Lehua Parker’s book proves that this rather common theme isn’t reserved for children’s or young adult literature only. Rich in symbolism, which will be actually more evident to mature readers than adolescents, ‘Sniff’ is quite thought-provoking. Somewhere between the lines the author camouflaged questions worth pondering on. How far will a person go to protect their family? Are even the most unbelievable things always a figment of somebody’s imagination? What happens when they turn out to be real? The ending of this tale is your answer. And, let me tell you, it’s an answer you wish you’d never got.

Of course, the fact that the story has a hidden message doesn’t make it any less entertaining overall. It’s still a delightful, humorous (at times hysterically funny) read that will keep you riveted from the very beginning. Exactly like ‘Birth’, this title also contains two versions of the narrative. The first one is written in Standard American English, the second is adorned with Hawaiian-style expressions and Pidgin words. If you are familiar with these, you know which version you should opt for.

I must admit I am truly impressed with Lehua Parker works. She is an extremely talented writer with a head full of bewitching ideas. She never fails to deliver a good story. And when it comes to ‘Sniff’… Well, if you like mysteries or are curious what can be found under a piece of furniture, treat yourself to this tale. It can be downloaded – for free – from the author’s website. Engaging, amusing, and intriguing at the same time, it is a wonderful book for children and adults alike.