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Customer Reviews for

Honolulu

Average Rating 4
( 171 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(88)

4 Star

(50)

3 Star

(17)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Loved this book!

As a lover of the Hawaiian Islands, I've been so happy to discover Alan Brennert's novels. I haven't run across much quality fiction about Hawaii and it's people, so I was excited when Mr. Brennert's first novel "Molokai" appeared at the book store. And I was doubly thr...
As a lover of the Hawaiian Islands, I've been so happy to discover Alan Brennert's novels. I haven't run across much quality fiction about Hawaii and it's people, so I was excited when Mr. Brennert's first novel "Molokai" appeared at the book store. And I was doubly thrilled when "Honolulu" was published. Both books are excellent. I particularly appreciate the fact that the author has put alot of time into research in order to give an accurate portrayal of the lives of his Hawaiian characters. I've always been interested in the authentic Hawaii - it's history, the people who have populated the islands, and the cultures they have brought with them to make Hawaii what it is today. These two stories are each an absorbing read and an easy way for anyone to learn some Hawaiian history. "Molokai" tells the story of a little girl torn from her family and sent to live in the leper colony. My heart ached for this little girl. She has all the same dreams and yearnings as any other, but she's ostracized by a fearful and ignorant society. It's a story of courage and resilience and the right to live a full and happy life despite one's circumstances. You'll learn much about Kalaupapa through her story. "Honolulu" is set in the more recent past and tells the story of a young Korean teenager taking a chance at a new and more liberated life. She defies tradition, leaves her family and travels to Hawaii to marry a man she's never met. No matter how many setbacks, she never gives up. I think this second book is really more a story about Honolulu, using the life of the main character as the vehicle to tell the story. I would have liked it if some of the emotions of the character had been more richly explored, but it's a minor point. These are good reads, great for book clubs, and keepers in my home library. Now I just want Alan Brennert to write another!

posted by TimmyTam on March 29, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Somewhat disappointed

Earlier this year I read "Moloka'i" which blew me away. I assigned it to my book club, and it was one of the few books in our 12 years of existence that everyone loved. So with great excitement I pre-ordered "Honolulu" and just read it now as a holiday treat to myself...
Earlier this year I read "Moloka'i" which blew me away. I assigned it to my book club, and it was one of the few books in our 12 years of existence that everyone loved. So with great excitement I pre-ordered "Honolulu" and just read it now as a holiday treat to myself. Yes, I know I shouldn't compare... but what a disappointment. Where it succeeded was in telling me of the history of Honolulu in the 19th century, especially the trials and tribulations that are inherent in a melting pot of cultures. (Now I want to research photos of early Honolulu.) But I never really cared for the protagonist, Jin. She was too perfect... a friend to all... a living saint... I never felt like I got into her skin and it left me detatched. I didn't grow to love or care for any of her fellow picture brides, or Hawaiian friends, many who were brought to the page from newspaper archives. I think that the author chose a few specific historical events to outline and then develop, mainly that of prositution in early 1900, the growth and strength of the pineapple industry, a particular landmark rape crime and trial, and the birth of Hawaiian shirts. By the end I was quite eager to move on to another book.

posted by Schubidoo on December 16, 2009

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Page 1 of 9
  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Loved this book!

    As a lover of the Hawaiian Islands, I've been so happy to discover Alan Brennert's novels. I haven't run across much quality fiction about Hawaii and it's people, so I was excited when Mr. Brennert's first novel "Molokai" appeared at the book store. And I was doubly thrilled when "Honolulu" was published. Both books are excellent. I particularly appreciate the fact that the author has put alot of time into research in order to give an accurate portrayal of the lives of his Hawaiian characters. I've always been interested in the authentic Hawaii - it's history, the people who have populated the islands, and the cultures they have brought with them to make Hawaii what it is today. These two stories are each an absorbing read and an easy way for anyone to learn some Hawaiian history. "Molokai" tells the story of a little girl torn from her family and sent to live in the leper colony. My heart ached for this little girl. She has all the same dreams and yearnings as any other, but she's ostracized by a fearful and ignorant society. It's a story of courage and resilience and the right to live a full and happy life despite one's circumstances. You'll learn much about Kalaupapa through her story. "Honolulu" is set in the more recent past and tells the story of a young Korean teenager taking a chance at a new and more liberated life. She defies tradition, leaves her family and travels to Hawaii to marry a man she's never met. No matter how many setbacks, she never gives up. I think this second book is really more a story about Honolulu, using the life of the main character as the vehicle to tell the story. I would have liked it if some of the emotions of the character had been more richly explored, but it's a minor point. These are good reads, great for book clubs, and keepers in my home library. Now I just want Alan Brennert to write another!

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Somewhat disappointed

    Earlier this year I read "Moloka'i" which blew me away. I assigned it to my book club, and it was one of the few books in our 12 years of existence that everyone loved. So with great excitement I pre-ordered "Honolulu" and just read it now as a holiday treat to myself. Yes, I know I shouldn't compare... but what a disappointment. Where it succeeded was in telling me of the history of Honolulu in the 19th century, especially the trials and tribulations that are inherent in a melting pot of cultures. (Now I want to research photos of early Honolulu.) But I never really cared for the protagonist, Jin. She was too perfect... a friend to all... a living saint... I never felt like I got into her skin and it left me detatched. I didn't grow to love or care for any of her fellow picture brides, or Hawaiian friends, many who were brought to the page from newspaper archives. I think that the author chose a few specific historical events to outline and then develop, mainly that of prositution in early 1900, the growth and strength of the pineapple industry, a particular landmark rape crime and trial, and the birth of Hawaiian shirts. By the end I was quite eager to move on to another book.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful and Touching Tale

    My mother had lent me this book and I was slightly skeptic about reading it. She loves the Hawaiian islands so I thought she may be exaggerating how good the book was with her bias. And the simple title of "Honolulu" did not sound like it was going to be all too interesting. But she was spot-on! This novel swept me up into a another time and place, and I hardly wanted to put the book down. The history is well researched and the characters are likable, each with a distinct voice. The story is a lovely historical epic and you can't help but feel what Jin, the protagonist, feels and see her life through her eyes. I bought my mother Brennert's other novel, "Moloka'i", for Mother's Day and she loves that one too- and I'm anxious to read it as well. Hope to see more from this gifted author!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011

    Wonderful Historical Novel

    I was not particularly interested in the history of Hawaii but reading the story of a Korean girl's journey in and through her life on the islands was truly a joy. I love how Brennert weaves in real historical characters throughout the story. I was always "Googling" events and historical figures to verify and read more about them. Brennert is always "right on" with every event and every character. Loved it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    3.75 Stars

    3.75 stars! What a hard one to review! I say "hard" simply because I loved Moloka'i so much I figure that I would be unfairly comparing the two (which I probably did). This story was a little slower to get into and I later discovered this to be the pace throughout the novel, however, the story was a good one about an area of history of which I knew very little--picture brides. It has been a while since I've read Moloka'i so my memory may not be too clear but I found I appreciated the writing in Moloka'i so much more--the writing in this one felt much more...simple? and Brennert employed one of the techniques I dislike in books: a statement made at the end of each section/chapter that foreshadows the coming event. I don't know why this technique annoys me but it does and honestly, maybe he did this in Moloka'i and it just didn't bother me then.

    The main character was very likeable (albeit a little bit Mary Poppinsish for my taste) and I found that I really cared for the outcome of her story. I also appreciated the discoveries about Korean culture. I always enjoy a story about cultures.

    Brennert obviously has a great love for Hawaii and for its history, warts and all. I really appreciate the diversity of his Hawaiin stories and eagerly wait for another.(

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    The best book I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

    It is very rare in life to find a story that can move you to be passionate. Even more so to inspired and honestly touched by words on a page. Yet, following this story I found myself seeing less ink on pages and more of a new and exciting world through the eyes of Regret. Regret exhbits an honest bravery rarely seen in book heroines, rarely seen in anyone really. She possesses a passion that outweighs all her fears and insecurities, and she follows it far from her traditional life in Korea to a new life and a new name. Starting over in Hawai'i as Jin she struggles to make something of her life even as all her hopes and dreams crumble around her. She suffers great tragedies and yet discovers immense joy in family and friends. Jin's "sisters" and all of the ecclectic people she encounters have thier own vivid tales which intertwine with Jin's touching account to create an expierence rather than just a book. This book follows Jin through many heartbreaking struggles which she endures, and shows a inspiring strength of heart and spirit. It paints a beautiful and complete picture of Hawai'i, showing many differnt sides that one cannot see of it just staring at a photograph. Most importantly this book, as well as Jin herself, lives up to the name of "Gem".

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2009

    Brennert is this millenium's James Michener - less 1,000 pages per book

    Brennert weaves thoroughly researched history and its details with seemingly realistic but fictional characters to create a gripping, can't put it down novel.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read

    I loved Honolulu by Alan Brennert! Honolulu is just one of those books that sucks you in - with its story, characters, great writing - and compels you to read just one more chapter, even though it's already 2am.

    Honolulu tells the story of Regret , the only girl born to a traditional Korean family. Wishing to learn, Regret approaches her father, only to be beat down and berated. As a last resort, Regret secretly offers herself up as a picture bride (equivalent of a mail-order bride), only telling her parents once the match is complete. Disowned by her father, Regret travels to Hawaii to meet the rich, handsome husband promised by the matchmaker. Once in Hawaii, Regret finds herself as a wife to a plantation worker with drinking and gambling problems, and a foul temper. Nothing she does is ever good enough, and she endures much physical abuse before choosing to leave her husband, and run away to Honolulu. In control of her life for the first time, Regret (now taking the name Jin) finds her way with hard work and the renewed friendships with the other picture brides. Through numerous tests and trials, Jin realizes the strength she never knew she had, and becomes a great immigrant success story.

    In addition to spanning Jin's entire lifetime, Honolulu is a very accurate depiction of life in 20th century Hawaii. In the prologue, Alan Brennert explains that various events described in the novel are historically accurate. I think Honolulu is a great way to learn about that part of Hawaii's history while enjoying the story. I only wish that we read more books like this in history classes.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Highly Recommend this book

    Alan Brennert makes you believe you are right there, I wish the story never ended. I've been to Hawai'i several times and wasn't aware of the plight the Asian population had during the early 19th century. Now I do. I absolutely loved this book. Hope to read more books from Mr Brennert.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2011

    Amazing Story

    This story had me cheering, crying, sad ... all kinds of emotions. I highly recommend.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    Honolulu Memories

    This was a very touching book about the older days of living in Honolulu. The author did an excellent job of writing about events from touch times, romance, sad and happy endings. The book of Honolulu meant more to me as I had just visited Honolulu and reading it gave me more insight of the islands. This is my first book written by this author and I would highly recommend reading this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    I really enjoyed Honolulu! I live on Oahu so I like to read books related to Hawaii. I learned a lot of things that I didn't know about that time. It is a wonderful book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Lovely read

    I enjoyed this book very much. It was a nice mix of history and fiction. It moved along quickly and I cared about the characters and was sad to see it end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    Beautifully Written

    "...slowly she and I found that our friendship, though damaged, was like fabric torn on the seam, not beyond repair."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    Enjoyed Reading This

    Interesting blending of history, multi-cultural characters and challenging situations. This book covers a time of change in the world through the eyes and experience of one young woman. Hawaii is like no other state; its riches lie in the land and its people. An enjoyable tale!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Good Read

    I really got into this book. There were times in the middle where it got a little long, but it was still a good book.

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  • Posted April 26, 2013

    Great read

    Great read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    Interesting, but predictable.

    While this was the first book I've read of this author, he disappointed me. He doesn't write from a woman's perspective and I truly felt that something was missing. It just didn't feel like the character had a woman's voice. However, it was interesting to learn about Korean culture during that era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    A very enjoyable book

    I bought this after reading Molokai. I thought Molokai was a little better, but this is very good too. I enjoyed learning about the history of Hawaii and the immigrants who shaped it. The characters had interesting depth and I found myself very caught up in the story. This is especially fun to read, along with Molokai, if you are going to Hawaii, but no trip is necessary. If you like historical fiction, this might be a good pick for you.

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  • Posted April 5, 2013

    Recommend

    This story pulled together much of Honolulu's fascinating history into a smoothly flowing biography. I have always been interested in the many ethnic groups that came together under so many different circumstances to give our 50th state its 'flavor'. This was an interesting telling of many of those groups.

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