Ready for a fun guest post by my good friend and fellow author Lehua Parker? Well, she’s got a new book out, ONE SHARK, NO SWIM.
It’s a sequel to her completely fun ONE BOY, NO WATER, which I reviewed here when it came out last year. She’s on a roll. And lucky Lehua got to grow up in Hawaii. A couple of years ago, after a rough reelection campaign, I begged my husband to “take me away from it all,” and we threw caution to the wind and went to Hawaii. I’d never been, and I cannot believe how glorious it was. For months after going there, I’d wake up in the morning thinking, “How can I get back there?” So, I’ve asked Lehua to give us the lowdown on what it’s like to really be living there full time, like I dream of doing. Man, there couldn’t be a landscape more different from the one where I live now than Hawaii.
Take it away, Lehua!
Lucky You Live Hawaii
Ah, Hawaii. Everybody surfs. Beautiful girls in grass skirts smile as you pass by. Coconuts fall off trees and tumble into coolers where they sprout little paper umbrellas…
Paradise? You bet. There’s a reason locals say lucky you live Hawaii. However, most people experience Hawaii on vacation. Even a trip to Costco is exciting if you’re on vacation. Here are my four top myth-understandings about Hawaii.
If you put pineapple on it, it’s Hawaiian.
Nope. Pineapples originated in Brazil, not Polynesia. Pineapple on pizza? California, just like coconut bras, tiki bars, tiki torches, and fire-knife dancing. Grass skirts? Micronesia. Those super-fast hip shaking dance moves you see at hula shows? Tahiti. Ukuleles? Portugal. Flower leis? Technically from Spanish cowboys who took the original Hawaiian idea of green leaf garlands one step further and created showy love-tokens for their sweethearts and horses.
Sadly, much of what reminds people of Hawaii was invented by Hollywood and Trader Vic’s.
Hawaiian civic groups are understandably tired of I got lei’d in Hawaii shot glasses, tiki god ashtrays, and plastic placemats with nonsensical Your Hawaiian Name Here! translations. (One of my favorites: Katherine = Kakalina, which really means gasoline. Most don’t even make that much sense.) Fortunately, big grassroots campaigns are gaining momentum to set the record straight. Many hotels now have mandatory Hawaiian culture classes for their employees and hold free workshops for tourists—all in an effort to bring the real Hawaii back to the vacation experience. Which brings me to—
If you live in Hawaii, you’re Hawaiian.
Unlike New Yorker or Californian, Hawaiian refers to a Polynesian race. To be Hawaiian you have to have Hawaiian blood, meaning ancestors that were living in the islands prior to Captain Cook’s arrival in 1778. In Hawaii you’ll hear kama‘aina, meaning of the land, used to refer to Hawaii residents, but even this word isn’t quite right unless your family has deep roots here. Locals, islanders, or simply from Hawaii are all more accurate descriptions. Keep this in mind if you hear ex-pat islanders in Idaho call someone local. Hint: they aren’t saying he’s from Boise.
Oh, and Hawaii is the only state where everyone is a minority—no one race or nationality is anywhere close to 50% of the population. Most islanders are a mixture—having five or more nationalities isn’t uncommon. Speaking of nationalities—
You need a passport to visit Hawaii.
But only if you’re not a US citizen since Hawaii is the 50th State. That means it’s as much a part of the United States as Kansas, except it’s surrounded by ocean and separated from the American continent by a few thousand miles.
We speak English, use American money, have indoor plumbing, movie theaters, and yes, Costcos. You don’t need special vaccinations, water purification tablets, voltage adaptors, or snakebite anti-venom to visit. Pack lightly. If you do forget something and really need it, don’t worry; you can buy it here, even though most people think—
Going to Hawaii is like stepping back to a simpler time.
Because vacationers dream of Hawaii as an idyllic backwater paradise, it knocks people’s socks off to learn that by the mid-1800s Hawaii had the highest literacy rate in the world, the first newspapers west of the Rockies, and that Iolani Palace, the home of Hawaii’s monarchs, had telephones and electricity before the White House in Washington, DC.
It was good to be the King.
The city of Honolulu, which melts seamlessly into the tourist mecca of Waikiki, is the 10th largest city in the United States. On the isle of Oahu, Hawaii’s largest population center, islanders spend on average more than two hours a day in stop and go traffic, ranking Honolulu the third worse commute in North America, just behind Los Angeles and Vancouver.
You can imagine the shock this causes honeymooners from Nebraska who are expecting grass huts nestled near waterfalls.
The good news is if your perfect Hawaiian vacation depends on grass huts and waterfalls, we do have a few of those around. For around $130 tour buses will pick you up from your Waikiki hotel and take you to an authentic reenactment village. Just don’t expect the locals posing for your photos as you try your hand at pounding poi, weaving lauhala mats, or hula to actually live there. Most are islanders, not Hawaiians, and your once-in-a-lifetime Kodak moment is probably their second job after a two hour commute.
But they’ll try their darndest to make it special. We get the power of vacations, too.
Hurricanes, active volcanos, earthquakes, tsunamis, and traffic jams aside, we still think we’re lucky we live Hawaii.
Because we are.
Great stuff! Lehua’s point about needing a passport reminds me of when I heard a beauty pageant contestant answer the question of “Place You’d Most Like to Visit” with the response: “I’d like to go to Hawaii because I’ve never been outside the United States.” Ah, perfect. Reminds me of Super Daisy.
As you can see, this lady knows her island stuff. She’s woven it so authentically into her novels, which if you haven’t read them by now, are Middle Grade contemporary fantasies set in Hawaii, and are just great for boys because they center on a boy who finds out he’s different, not just because he’s allergic to water, but because he’s … something we should be afraid to go back in the water because of.
You’ll love them.
ONE SHARK, NO SWIM is available for order now online and will be in bookstores any second. Lehua also has a super informative blog about Hawaii and Hawaiian life and great tips on writing, etc. She’s great. Enjoy the books! And, seriously, let’s all go to Hawaii. Soon.
HERE’s A BUNCH OF COOL STUFF ABOUT LEHUA. KEEP READING!
Lehua Parker is originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. In addition to writing award-winning short fiction, poetry, and plays, she is the author of the Pacific literature MG/YA series the Niuhi Shark Saga published by Jolly Fish Press. One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim are available now. Book 3, One Fight, No Fist will be published in 2014.
So far Lehua has been a live television director, a school teacher, a courseware manager, an instructional designer, a sports coach, a theater critic, a SCUBA instructor, a playwright, a web designer, a book editor, a mother, and a wife. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two children, three cats, two dogs, six horses, and assorted chickens. During the snowy Utah winters she dreams about the beach.
Connect with Lehua Parker
Blog & Free Short Stories: http://www.lehuaparker.com/
All things Niuhi Shark Saga: http://www.niuhisharksaga.com/
One Boy, No Water
Barnes & Noble
One Shark, No Swim:
Barnes & Noble
Blurb for One Boy, No Water
11 year old Alexander Kaonakai Westin—Zader for short—is allergic to water. One drop on his skin sears like white-hot lava. Too bad a lifetime of carrying an umbrella and staying away from the beach isn’t the answer, especially when his popular almost twin brother Jay looks destined to become the next Hawaiian surfing sensation.
But avoiding water is just the tip of Zader’s troubles. Eating raw seafood and rare meat gives him strange dreams about a young girl in a red cape and nightmares about a man with too many teeth. There’s also the school bullies who want to make Zader their personal punching bag, the pressure of getting into Ridgemont Academy, and the mysterious yearly presents from his birth family that nobody talks about.
It’s enough to drive Zader crazy, especially when he suspects old Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima know a secret that explains his unusual biological quirks. After all, they were the ones who found him newborn and abandoned on a reef and brought him to the Westins to adopt. Uncle Kahana swears Zader is ‘ohana—family—by blood as well as adoption. Too bad he’s not saying more.
When Jay quits surfing after a shark scare, Zader decides it’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and start searching for answers.
Growing up adopted in Hawai‘i just got a little weirder.
Blurb for One Shark, No Swim
There’s something bugging adopted Zader Westin, something more troubling than his water allergies where one drop on his skin burns like hot lava. It’s bigger than his new obsession with knives, designing the new murals for the pavilion with Mr. Halpert, or dealing with Char Siu’s Lauele Girlz scotch tape makeover. Zader can’t stop thinking about a dream, the dream that might not have been a dream where Lē‘ia called him brother then jumped into the ocean and turned into a shark.
Zader’s got a lot of questions, not the least being why he’s hungry all the time, restless at night, and why he feels a constant itch on the back of his neck. It’s making him feel like teri chicken on a pūpū platter, but Zader doesn’t want to think about chicken, not with his growing compulsion to slip it down his throat—raw.
With Jay busy at surf camp and Uncle Kahana pretending nothing’s happening, Zader’s left alone to figure things out, including why someone—something—is stalking him before it’s too late.
Summer in Lauele Town, Hawaii just got a little more interesting.