Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review of Wai-Nani, High Chiefessof Hawaii

WAI-NANI, High Chiefess of Hawai’i
By: Linda Ballou
Published by Star Publish

This review is based on a review copy provided by Linda Ballou in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

WAI-NANI, High Chiefess of Hawai’i is a beautiful tale filled with evocative images of a Hawai’i of long-ago. Based on real people, Ms. Ballou has carefully crafted a tale describing how one woman defied the traditions of her people and helped bring the Hawaiian natives, particularly the women, into the modern world.

Ms. Ballou based her character on the Hawaiian chiefess, Ka’ahumanu, who lived during the 1700s. She was born fifteen years prior to the arrival of the British Navy’s Captain Cook. As a young girl, she became the favorite wife of Kamehameha, a fierce warrior chief.

Using history as a jumping point, Ms. Ballou introduces the reader to Wai-nani whose fictional life follows that of Ka’ahumanu. Wai-nani leaves her family in search of freedom and adventure soon after she is publicly humiliated for riding the waves wearing her brother’s clothing. At one with the water, Wai-nani is befriended by a dolphin family who become her life-long companions. With the aid of the dolphins, she is escapes to an island where she meets her soul-mate, Makaha who is on a spiritual quest. Unknown to her, Makaha is destined to rule over all of Hawaii. In their time alone, they discover love and join together as man and wife.

Makaha is called back to his own island, leaving Wai-nani alone and confused. She is guided back to health by Makaha’s faithful friend. Soon, she follows her husband, only to find she will be tested before their marriage is sanctified. While Makaha accepts her before his people, until she produces an heir, her place at his side is in jeopardy. When she cannot provide the needed heir, Makaha takes a second wife, Huali, a royal person in her own right. Huali provides Makaha with a son, leaving Wai-nani to find her own place in Hawaiian society. This becomes her story, her trials and tribulations, her emotional and physical journey.

Ms. Ballou’s creative use of words allows the reader to experience historical Hawai’i through the eyes of Wai-nani. Ms. Ballou’s research into the Hawaiian culture is vast, and she brings this world to life through descriptive passages and the use of many Hawaiian words. She includes a glossary of the common words at the end of the story.

As I read the story, I felt transported to a land of pungent flowers and three-finger poi. I enjoyed this tale and hope someday I can travel to Hawai’i to see this beautiful land for myself.

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