book reviews, reading

Book Review: “Hawaii” by James Michener

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is a massive book and I’m sorry the review won’t be quite as impressive in length. I love all the ground this book covered. It started when the islands were formed from the volcanoes and ended all the way in 1954, close to when James Michener wrote the book and had it published.

The beginning has to be my favorite part. I love the beautiful language used to describe the formation of the islands and I love hearing of how people came to inhabit these islands. It’s so interesting to me to hear about tribal cultures and all they believe and do that’s so different from our own. It felt like the main characters of the story were the missionaries. Their stories seemed to go on the longest and hold the most impact for the islands.

I loved how whenever a new family was introduced I knew they were going to play an important part in Hawaii’s history somehow, they would intermingle with the other characters somehow, and they always seemed to be from some other nationality than Hawaiian. We have the white missionaries, the Chinese, and the Japanese. Very briefly does the author talk about true Hawaiians other than Kelly Kanakoa who is descended from the last rulers of Hawaiian culture. Hawaii is such a cultural melting pot by the time the book is over and you can’t help but love each of these families and their contributions.

I lived in Hawaii for a few years back in my early 20s, which is why I chose to read this book. It’s the first book I’ve ever read by James Michener. I can tell he put a lot of research hours into forming this book, even though all the characters are fiction, most are based off of real people or are composites of real people. The situations he tells us about are definitely representative of things that really have happened in Hawaii’s past. I loved learning about how pineapples came to the islands because it is such an important part of the island and its culture now.

I feel like I’ve been reading this book forever! This was my work book so if I ever finished work early and had time to spare before I could leave, I read some of this and then I got to the point where I just wanted to be done with it so I could read something else so I also read it in the mornings before work. It’s huge! It’s definitely a commitment and won’t be for everyone, especially if history and genealogy aren’t really your thing, but if they are and you have an interest in the islands then this is a good book for you!

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