The Great American Road Trip–FINAL STOP
Book: The Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
A GUEST POST BY Kris Bordessa
Try as you might, when you plug a mainland address into Mapquest with an address ending on any of the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll get a message saying that they can’t find a suitable vehicular route. Very true. And yet, how can America’s 50th state be left out of the road trip fun here at A Traveler’s Library?
♦NOTE: As with every state we have visited, Music Road provides the musical accompaniment. This time Kerry had a little help from Kris Bordessa’s son, a musician in Hawaii. ♦
Hawaii’s the only place in the good old U S of A where you can catch views of red-hot lava flows and snow-capped peaks all in the same day. Suffice it to say that once you’ve made it to the islands, there’s plenty of road trippin’ to be had.
Hawaii is really two different places. For visitors, it’s very often a place to get away from it all. It’s hammocks and beaches and pink umbrella drinks. Hawaii is a fabulous vacation destination, but the nuances of the island are often lost on travelers with a limited time to spend here. They’ll get a kick out of the big Hawaiian guy flashing a shaka and chattering in Pidgin, usually incomprehensible to the uninitiated.
They’ll ooh and ahh over glorious sunsets
and run their toes through the sand,
and they’ll be charmed by Hawaiian tunes plucked out on the ‘ukulele.
But beneath these visible elements of the islands runs a deep rhythm, a rhythm that often goes unheard by visitors intent on not missing a thing. The other Hawaii, the true Hawaii, has a rich cultural history. From the first human inhabitants of the island through an embarrassing overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States of America and the modernization of the most remote islands in the world, Hawaiian mythology has been a constant.
In Shark Dialogues, author Kiana Davenport offers readers a chance to discover the low drumbeat of rhythm that is Hawaii. While fictional, the novel depicts Hawaii’s history from the first missionaries to the modern era while presenting the stories of several generations of powerful Hawaiian women. Pono, family matriarch, kahuna, and central character in the book, laments the fact that her offspring have left tradition behind, marrying non-Hawaiians and scattering across the globe. When her four granddaughters converge on the Big Island, they discover family ties and a compelling connection with their island home.
Finally, she sat down with them, shoveling food between her great nicotine-stained teeth. Only then did Pono visibly relax. And in that magisterial repose, a signal: the other four relaxed, looked round the place, its windswept lanai. Only then did they glimpse the orchards, fields of “Kona snow” billowing out toward cliffs and far below the sea. Only then did they feel the ocean in water-haunted sunlight that lay across each room, making objects shiver. And only then did each woman feel impervious to the outside world, as the house closed round them.
With interwoven story lines, this saga explores the passion and heartbreak of relationships from the leper colony at Kalaupapa to the Yazuka, an organized crime ring in Japan, all the while paying homage to the mysticism of Hawaii. The book’s honest portrayal of the culture and diversity of the islands is an invitation to discover the heart of Hawaii.
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii – or just dreaming of one – Shark Dialogues is a must-read. Peppered with Hawaiian language (a helpful glossary at the back of the book) and place names, the book wraps readers in an island breeze and submerges them in the blue Pacific. Listen closely and you might even hear that oft-missed rhythmic drumbeat of the islands.
THANKS, KRIS! Sounds like a great book!
Ken and I once took a road trip through Kauai in a bright red convertible. It was so appropriate for that colorful and fun place. AND, we stayed in the hotel where Elvis filmed Blue Hawaii. (No longer in operation, I’m sorry to say). But for now, I’ll just watch the new Hawaii Five-O. The opening credits scenery is worth watching!
Next Wednesday, I’ll say a proper farewell to The Great American Road Trip, but for now, let’s concentrate on Hawaii. What’s your favorite island? Been there? Or just dreaming?