Machado’s book sets the record straight on what it is like to grow up in Hawai‘i ... This is the perfect book for anyone feeling lost, working through grief, and attempting to find a connection with someone to feel less alone.
Machado movingly excavates notions of identity, family, and Native culture ... Machado’s narrative hums with raw emotion, as she writes of rejecting the idealized island girl stereotype, and as an adult, seeking a connection to her ancestors. Her depiction of Hawaii is far from the carefree paradise shaped by tourists and Western colonialism, and instead offers a sharp consideration of class distinctions and the islands’ history. The result is a luminous coming-of-age portrait.
It’s clear the author conducted extensive research ... The second half of the text is the strongest, gorgeously portraying the complexity of Machado’s spiral into despair. However, the protagonist’s slow unraveling is never fully resolved. The author doesn’t delve deep into many of the struggles she faced, leaving readers to wonder what exactly happened and how she overcame the obstacles. This lack of cohesion renders the book’s ending unsatisfying and its initial pages difficult to interpret. Overall, though, Machado’s rich descriptions and frank voice make the book worth reading.