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West of Then: A Mother, a Daughter, and a Journey Past Paradise

West of Then: A Mother, a Daughter, and a Journey Past Paradise

4.1 6
by Tara Bray Smith

A dazzling, devastating memoir about one woman's search for her wayward mother, whose past is inextricably linked with the bittersweet history of their home, Hawaii.

At the center of West of Then is Karen Morgan -- island flower, fifth generation haole (white) Hawaiian, Mayflower descendant -- now living on the streets of downtown Honolulu. Despite her

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West of Then: A Mother, a Daughter, and a Journey Past Paradise 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
West of Then is the most affecting book I have read in many years. Having grown up in Honolulu and attended the same high school as Tara Bray Smith's mother, Karen Morgan, ten years earlier, I lived every word on every page. However, I can only imagine the bleak inner world lived by Karen and her abandonned daughter Tara. This is a view of my hometown, my home state, that is simply stunning. Smith weaves in our unique history only as needed and as it relates to her story. Not too much, but enough to add color, vibrancy and depth. Astonishingly, the emotions that come through are not pity and disgust for Smith's beautiful, lost mother who grew up in such extraordinarily fascinating circumstances, but wonder, confusion, acceptance, sorrow, loyalty, and the undying love of a child who knows no other way to relate to her wayward mother. Smith writes with style, force and wonder.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished West Of Then. I took my time in savoring the exquisite writing in this book. Many times, I had to stop and remember 'This is Tara Bray Smith's first book'. She is amazing with how she somehow simultaneously writes about the past and the present and then adds Hawaiian history--yet it flows easily. The pieces of Hawaiian history were helpful with painting the picture of her memories. It would be hard to imagine growing up in Hawaii, yet she makes me feel what she felt while growing up. So many books' writing seem cliche, as if the same person could have written all of them. I was sad to finish this book-- it was very moving and intelligently written. A gem that I recommend!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! It is a remarkably true tale of a young woman searching for her lost mother. Kudos to Tara Bray Smith for putting her heartbreak and love into words!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This memoir misses the mark because it fails to explore the inner world of the girl narrator and the possible ramifications of her mother's drug-induced behavior on the girl's psyche. There's a lot of fertile ground left unexplored.