Posts Tagged ‘Julia Flynn Siler’
Monday, May 7, 2012
Here it is: the wrap-up for the first reading selection of 2012, LOST KINGDOM: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure by Julia Flynn Siler.
(Yes… I’m late in presenting this. Time has not been on my side, lately. But better late than never, right?)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I had mixed feelings when my friend, Amy, presented me with this book.
I was excited to read it because it was a NEW book about Hawaiʻi. One that hadn’t been sitting on my shelf. (Those of you who know me know that I’m usually a little behind the times when it comes to anything new and /or trendy!)
I was also a bit nervous to read it. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like a book that presented Hawaiian history. Before I even opened the book, I was taunted by memories of history classes I’d taken in school where we were bombarded with a dry list of names and dates and then forced to regurgitate the information on an exam. Would this book be exciting? Would it hold my interest?
I’m pleased to report that my fears were NOT realized. Even though the story is not a happy one, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went back a reread parts of it. (And that’s something I never did in my history classes!)
This is the story of one of the most turbulent periods of Hawaiian history.
And yet, history books are only beginning to write about what happened. And more often than not, it’s an overlooked story. When I speak about Hawaiʻi, I’m always surprised and saddened to find that people don’t know about what happened–or even that Hawaiʻi had once been a sovereign nation.
Siler breathed life into the names and events and presented them in a way that anyone looking to learn more about what happened can understand. Scholarly and reader-friendly at the same time.
I was delighted to learn about the PEOPLE who played key roles in this period of Hawaiian history instead of just names. Real characters–not cardboard cutouts–who came to life on the page. And she presented stories I’d never heard before–no doubt through her meticulous research. (Pages 309-395 are devoted to the books’s bibliography–which I read! It was full of interesting stories. How many times have you read a book’s bibliography?!)
This book became my subway companion and kept me company while I traveled beneath NYC’s streets. (And on more than one occasion, I nearly missed my stop–completely engrossed in what I was reading.)
I loved that she really told the story. And while she didn’t shy away from illuminating the injustices done to the Hawaiian people, she also didn’t present the Hawaiian aliʻi as saints. Instead, she presented the facts in a way that showed the series of sad events that lead to the eventual overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
After reading it, I am in awe of Queen Liliʻuokalani. (Even more than before!) I’ve read other books about her, including her autobiography, but this one really drove a single point home: she was a force to be reckoned with. As a woman–and a woman of color–she was able to maintain a sense of respect and power in a time when much of the world considered women to be greatly inferior to men and people of color to be less than human. She must have been an awesome person!
Additionally, the book left me with even more respect for the Hawaiian people. What must have it been like to have lived through those events and the almost-complete destruction of their culture and language? I can’t even imagine how devastating that must have been. And now we’re witnessing a renaissance as Hawaiians embrace their rich cultural heritage and the young people are beginning to speak the language, again. Massive steps in the right direction!
Siler’s book will echo in my mind for a long time. I’m looking forward to discussing it with Pops to see what he thinks.
**And I am so interested in hearing what YOU have to say about the book. What jumped out at you? What were your feelings after you’d finished it?
Monday, January 23, 2012
It’s time for some book club news!
Over the holidays, I talked with some folks about book clubs that are successful. I looked at how we had structured it–reading one book per month. And I think it’s time to revamp the structure.
We’ll read 4 books a year. One book per quarter.
That seems like a more “do-able” task. And it will allow folks a little bit of wiggle-room, to read more casually or in a way that better suits people’s schedules.
I’m excited to announce the first book of the year, to be read throughout January, February and March: Julia Flynn Siler’s LOST KINGDOM.
It’s a new title, published just this year, so it should be relatively easy to find at your local library. (We LOVE libraries here at The Accidental Hawaiian Crooner!) Or you could check it out at your local bookstore (or favorite online bookseller).
Let’s aim for a discussion/wrap-up at the end of March.
I hope you’ll consider reading along with me over the next few months. I’m excited to explore a new title that’s been added to the Hawaiian-themed bookshelf.
And most of all, I’m excited to hear what YOU have to say about the book.
We create a community when we participate together and when we share.
(That’s one of the best things about having this blog–hearing from YOU!)
Here are some links to help you find the book online: