Eleven interlinked stories tell the tale of a boy coming of age in Kailua-Kona, a Hawaiian fishing village. Sonny Mendoza is a little different from the rest of the men in his family. Salisbury explores characters like Aunty Pearl, a full-blooded Hawaiian as regal as the queens of old; cool Jack, from L.A., who starts a gang and dares Sonny to be brave enough, cruel enough, to join; mysterious Melanie, who steals his heart; and Deeps, the shark hunter.
But the most memorable character is the sea itself: inviting, unpredictable, deadly. Mendoza men are brave men, but Sonny's courage is of a different kind. Why can't he love and trust the water as the men of his family are meant to do?
This first novel, which takes place on Hawaii between 1953 and 1966, strings together a collection of short stories to form a rare and exquisite narrative necklace. At its center sits Sonny Mendoza, descendant of Portuguese fishermen living in the tiny village of Kailua-Kona. As the book begins, he lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin Keo, since his widowed father is too busy to look after a young son. The unifying thread running through Sonny's youth is his inexplicable fear of the sea, which is finally resolved when he confronts a buried memory of near-drowning. Learning to swim, seeing death firsthand, exchanging a short-lived but passionate series of love letters, facing a bully--Sonny's adventures defy encapsulation without sounding diminished. The incidents together, however, create an extraordinary mood, distilling the most powerful and universal experiences of adolescence. Salisbury's focus and control in presenting events that punctuate young lives is reminiscent of Margaret Mahy, Cynthia Voigt and Jill Paton Walsh--but with a boyish twist that seems particularly timely given the popularity of current titles on masculinity. Salisbury draws on his own youth in the Hawaiian islands to locate these seminal moments in a landscape that, even as the action progresses, disappears in the face of encroaching resort development. While the exotic setting and rites of passage may remind readers of Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John , Salisbury writes in a less rarified style. His fluid, unobtrusive command of language never soars above the intended audience: "She looked exactly like the old pictures of Hawaiian queens, tall and wide, draped in full-length muumuus, with huge bare feet tough as coconut husks." Salisbury's notable debut is sure to garner him many fans who will eagerly await forthcoming works. Ages 10-up. (June) .
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 29, 1994
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.