Honolulu by Alan Brennert

honoluluA friend told me that she, as well as most members of her book club, enjoyed this novel, and I completely agree with them!

This novel begins in Korea in the early 20th century.  To get an idea of the role of girls in that society, it’s enough to look at the name of the main character, “Regret,” and the names of her brothers, “Joyful Day,” “Glad Son,” and “Goodness of the East.”  Regret has no opportunity to attend school.  When, as a teenager, she manages to learn to read, her father tells her that she has dishonored her clan – and then he hits her.  A friend tells her about Hawaii, a beautiful place where a Korean girl can find a handsome, rich husband, and she hopes for a better life in that faraway land.  She submits a picture, and a Hawaiian man chooses her as his “picture bride,” sending money for the long voyage.  This does not end well, but after much determination and hard work, Regret creates a happy life in Hawaii.

Based on extensive research, Honolulu gives a fascinating picture of life in Hawaii from 1914 until the 1930s.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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