In this rich collection, Salisbury's love for Hawaii and its encircling sea shines through every story. Readers will share the rush a boy feels when he leaps off a cliff into a ravine or feasts his eyes on a beautiful woman.
Gr 8 Up-An outstanding collection of short stories set in Hawaii, five of which have appeared in other anthologies. Boyz is a mix of first-person narratives that are rich in local vernacular, drawing readers into a variety of island-life experiences. Two stories worth noting are "The Doi Store Monkey" and "Waiting for the War." The first is a psychologically arresting story that exposes the cruelty that darkens prep-school life. A physically handicapped boy and a caged monkey are the easy marks for a band of boys on a mean spree. Only when it's too late does the narrator take a measured look at the pain he's helped inflict. "Waiting for the War" is set two years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. On the surface it is about two boys and an ornery horse. It is rife with humor as the protagonists are pitted against a wise and exasperatingly evasive animal. When the boys meet a serviceman from Texas who has the know-how to manage the animal, they indirectly gain a respect for the thousands of military men who inhabit their island. On a deeper level, the story speaks of the multitude of ways in which war touches people. The beauty of Island Boyz is that it covers a wide spectrum of ituations and emotions, from the effects of war on small-town life to the irrepressible adventure of deep-sea fishing. Its power is in the creative and credible narrative voices. Salisbury has artfully crafted difficult situations into recognizable facts of life in this terrific contribution to short-story collections.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Wendy Lamb Books
November 11, 2003
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Excerpt from Island Boyz by Graham Salisbury
Vinny turned away and swam back over to the other side of the pond, where he'd first gotten in. His mother would kill him if she ever heard about where he'd come. After the boy drowned, or was taken by the goddess, or whatever happened to him, she said never to come to this pond again. Ever. It was off-limits. Permanently.
But not his dad. He said, "You fall off a horse, you get back on, right? Or else you going be scared of it all your life."
His mother scoffed and waved him off. "Don't listen to him, Vinny, listen to me. Don't go there. That pond is haunted." Which had made his dad laugh.
But Vinny promised he'd stay away.
But then Starlene and Joe-Boy said, "Come with us anyway. You let your mommy run your life, or what?" And Vinny said, "But what if I get caught?" And Joe-Boy said, "So?"
Vinny mashed his lips. He was so weak. Couldn't even say no. But if he'd said, "I can't go, my mother won't like it," they would have laughed him right off the island. He had to go. No choice.
So far it was fine. He'd even gone in the water. Everyone was happy. All he had to do now was wait it out and go home and hope his mother never heard about it.
When lie looked up, Starlene was gone.
He glanced around the pond until he spotted her starting up the zigzag trail to the fifty-foot ledge. She was moving slowly, hanging on to roots and branches on the upside of the cliff. He couldn't believe she was going there. He wanted to yell, "Hey, Starlene, that's where he died!"
But she already knew that.
Mo jumped from the lower ledge, yelling "Banzaiiii!" An explosion of coffee-colored water erupted when he hit.
Joe-Boy swam over to where Starlene had gotten out. He waved to Vinny, grinning like a fool, then followed Starlene up the zigzag trail.
Now Starlene was twenty-five, thirty feet up. Vinny watched her for a while, then lost sight of her when she slipped behind a wall of jungle that blocked his view. A few minutes later she popped back out, now almost at the top where the trail ended, where there was nothing but mud and a few plants to grab on to if you slipped, plants that would rip right out of the ground, plants that wouldn't stop you if you fell, nothing but your screams between you and the rocks below.
Just watching her, Vinny felt his stomach tingle. He couldn't imagine what it must feel like to be up there, especially if you were afraid of heights, like he was. She has no fear, Vinny thought, no fear at all. Pleasepleaseplease, Starlene. I don't want to see you die.
Starlene crept forward, making her way to the end of the trail where the small ledge was.
Joe-Boy popped out of the jungle behind her. He stopped, waiting for her to jump before going on.
Vinny held his breath.
Starlene, in her cutoff jeans and soaked T-shirt, stood perfectly still, her arms at her side. Vinny suddenly felt like hugging her. Why, he couldn't tell. Starlene, please.
She reached behind her and took a wide leaf from a plant, then eased down and scooped up a finger of mud. She made a brown cross on her forehead, then wiped her muddy fingers on her jeans.
Was she thinking about the dead boy?
She stuck the stem end of the leaf in her mouth, leaving the rest of it to hang out. When she jumped, the leaf would flap up and cover her nose and keep water from rushing into it. An old island trick.