‘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.
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.
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.