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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 16, 2002

Readers comment on 'Makai'

Here are brief excerpts from comments we've received so far on the current Advertiser Book Club selection. We'll share full text of comments in postings on Sept. 15.

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I've had to digest Makai for a week now and am still mostly speechless.

The novel is incredibly powerful; Tyau gives a strong voice to all her characters--making them literally come alive on the pages. I found myself getting more and more emotionally involved as I progressed through the novel.

I know this is a novel I'll have to explore further.

Jenn Martin
Mililani, HI

I got so much pleasure out of reading (and rereading) the passages about St. Andrew's Priory. My own history with the Priory goes way back, but not as far back as the '30s and '40s. Descriptions of the Sisters brought back vivid memories of my own working relationship with the Sisters who administered the Priory in the '60s.

Anonymous e-mailer

Kathleen Tyau captures the essence of island living through the unraveling of two distinctly opposite characters. Makai details the relationship between two Chinese-Hawaiian women coming of age during World War II, their troublesome friendship, combined with a beautiful Hawaiian backdrop. The lives of Alice and Annabel are also like the ocean, and the many unresolved issues they have had.

Amy Endo

I have the hard copy of the book "Makai" and just absolutely loved reading it. I happen to have grown up in Pearl City with Kathleen and all the references she makes of her childhood are all too real! Her writing style is great, as she puts you into the reality of her story. I got her book at Powells in Oregon and keep it as a treasure.....to be shared with my children and grandchildren so they too can appreciate what it was like back then. I will remain her loyal fan and look forward to more of her writings.

Mary Antonio (no city given)

Hi, book club members...

Just finished MAKAI and the descriptions of Maui are true... especially "seeing Haleakala all naked" (P.11) to describe the back side of the mountain. I have a shoe box of old letters held together with scotch tape (p.18) and of course our Japanese family always brings food and more food to any party we go to.(p.23)

When I read a book it gets me thinking and gives me impetus to DO SOMETHING, like I must climb Mt. Fuji after reading AMERICAN FUJI. Now, this book must be telling me something about being more of a FREE SPIRIT. Pg. 142 "Some people call me Worry Wart and Not Feeling So Good and Quiet Type.." that is exactly a description of ME. So, FREE SPIRIT, here I come.... (even if it is a risk for me)

... Looking forward to your next book. THANKS for sending them to the public libraries; my librarian waits for me to come in and be the first to check out the new book club edition.

Marilyn Morikawa, Pukalani, Maui

It's been a long time since I plunged on through a book which kind of early on I didn't want to finish. Once I got towards the middle I was hooked, by then I was used to the time shifts and absorbing the enormous cast. By the end (what a terrific ending!) I realized actually the cast was not that big because it was so much a matter of identities moving through different bodies. Well, at least that's the way I sensed it.

I'll be so curious to see what kind of queries you get from readers on this one. The friendship of the two girls is so right, because of their differences, and the wholly disparate ways in which they deal with reality.

Judith Neale, KHPR Radio, Honolulu

I just loved Alice Lee and ached for her; she doesn't seem to see or understand her value and her family doesn't always value her, either. I got a little mad at Annabel Lee but then I realized that, at least when they were younger, she really did try to encourage her friend and pull her out of her shell and out of her comfort zone. But then she took off.

For me, this book is about knowing yourself; do you see who you really are, or are you trying to be someone else? What happens when you see things clearly? There's one very sad point when Alice Lee says that her role in life is to "let" — she lets others use her as she will, but she doesn't ask for much for herself. I think a lot of women were like that in that generation.

This book made me wonder what my Hawai'i Chinese grandmother was really thinking, what she was really like. She died not long ago much too young, at age 75 and she lived through some very interesting things but she never talked about them much. She listened — to my grandpa and to my mom and to me and my sisters and she was always very sympathetic and, actually, she always seemed to understand more than she said. Maybe that was because before she became just "Popo," she was like Alice, a girl who danced and giggled with friends and held a job.

Mimi K. L. Chun Hirokawa, Honolulu