Book Rating: 5.00
Hula by Jasmin ‘Iolani Hakes represents an exciting time as we witness new and exciting cultural narrations independent of the Americanized historical version. Hula is a complex, riveting, emotional prose that introduces readers to a fresh perspective of Hawaiian identity post colonization with a passion and fierceness to redefine their cultural narrative that reflects the hula spirit of their ancestors. Hula is the Hawaiian version of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. Hula is a multigenerational, historical fiction saga spanning three generations of women redefining their Hawaiian identity on their own terms. Hakes infuses her story with the history of the islands and how it relates to the three main characters:
Hulali, the matriarch of the family, estranged from her eldest daughter Laka, dedicates her life to her family while fighting the U.S. government in reclaiming Hawaiian land.
Laka, the eldest daughter of Hulali, left Hilo as a teenager to secretly have a baby, returning two years later with Hi’I, a red-haired Caucasian baby.
Hi’I is raised as Hawaiian and doesn’t question her identity until her peers begin to. Hi’I attempts to confirm her ancestry by immersing herself in learning the Hula, the Hawaiian native dance. Hi’I believes mastering the hula will connect her to her family and help preserve the fragile bond between Laka and her mother Hulali.
I really loved Hula! Hakes does a phenomenal job elevating deep-seated issues facing native Hawaiians and their struggles to protect their sacred Hawaiian culture from the commercialization that threatens it. Hula is a beautifully written novel that addresses the true meaning of family and the passion and dedication it takes to preserve it while giving readers an extraordinary view into the past, present, and future of Hawaiian peoples.
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