Customer Reviews for

Honolulu

Average Rating 4
( 171 )
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(88)

4 Star

(50)

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(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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  • 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 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 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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  • 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    highly recommend

    This is a good story based on the history of Hawaii.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Very interesting

    Gives a good history of early Honolulu & the many different people who helped shape it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    Intriguing

    I enjoyed this book very much and recommend it. You will not be sorry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    beautiful epic story

    Totally engrossing

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  • Posted November 21, 2012

    A great book for bookclubs!

    The author captures a reader's attention. It give a clear understanding of that time in history and the struggles of assorted cultures. It is truly an enjoyable book.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    good read for book club

    We (reading between the wines book club) read this last month. While not a book I would have chosen it was a worthy story with great tidbits of Hawian history and I enjoyed the perspective it was written from. you will go through all emotions. thought provoking issues still relevant in our day.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable and informative

    The story begins in Korea as a young girl becomes a mail-order bride to a man who has immigrated to Hawaii. As events unfold, she becomes a witness to Hawaiian history as well as a participant and hard-working pioneer. An enjoyable read about how the culture of Hawaii has evolved. Don't miss Alan Brennert's other novel, Moloka'i, about the leper colony on the title island.

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  • Posted March 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A womans hunger to live beyond the limitations she was born into and know the fullness of life.

    Let me start by saying this is a good read. It wasn't at all what I expected with the title being "Honolulu" but it is good none the less. It's the story of a Korean woman named Regret, who later changes her name to Jin. Born into a Confucian household that put boys and men as honored parts society and girls and women seen as only wives destined to be no more than maids or breeders for male children. Jin feels the full effect of her father's disappointment and feelings toward her by his naming her brothers things like "Joyful Day" and her "Regret". Jin has a hunger to know the fullness of her live vs. the limitations she was born into. She sneaks and learns to read on visits to the city to visit her sick aunt. She escapes to Honolulu on the premise of becoming a "Picture Bride" to a Korean plantation worker living there under the "Gentleman's Agreement" thinking this will be a new life of freedom and gender equality only to be disappointed by her abusive arranged husband. She eventually escapes him and though her Korean community would look down greatly on a divorce she braves this shame and chooses real freedom and is rewarded with a loving second husband. There are several other characters throughout the book of various races, genders and walks of life that help to drive home the theme of equality all in this "mixed plate" of Honolulu. For a historical fiction it is very informative I'd never heard of "Picture Brides" before reading this book. This book is kind of a cross between Joy Luck club &. not sure what else but I liked it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2010

    Not as good as Molokai'i

    This book is really good but I have one major problem with it. It harps on the Massie Case, which can be a little hard to read for a white person especially if you have an affiliation to the US military (its ridiculously embarrassing). I wasn't expecting the Massie Case to be included but it makes sense, when you read the author's reasoning and purpose at the end.

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  • Posted February 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    epic look at Hawaii

    In 1914, Korean Regret wants to attend school, but has no money to do so because in her country females are banned from classrooms. To go to school, she must leave the peninsular; she chooses Hawaii where girls attending school is the norm. She signs up as a mail order bride and a wealthy Hawaiian agrees to marry her.<BR/><BR/>She changes her name to Jin and arrives in Hawaii. However, she finds the islands not to be a paradise as her plantation owning spouse is abusive and overindulges with alcohol and gambling, which in a vicious circle leads to more nastiness towards her. She and some of her mail order bride peers, in similar ugly marriages, flee for Honolulu where they hope to find a better way to earn a living.<BR/><BR/>This epic look at Hawaii over several decades in the first half of the twentieth century contains a ton of interesting tidbits that anchor time and place but also supersedes the coming of age character study of an Asian expatriate. Especially enlightening and extremely insightful is the WW1 and Depression Eras as the female Asians struggle with survival. Fans will appreciate Alan Brennert¿s deep look back as Asian immigrants making it in the Hawaiian Territory before WW II changed the paradigm.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 7, 2010

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    Posted March 12, 2011

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    Posted March 29, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2012

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