Tsukiyama revisits themes that have been constant over the course of her 20-year career, tenderly exploring the complicated web of family and the resilient nature of the human spirit, while also shedding light on an important period of Asian history, this time the indentured servitude of Asian people on the sugar plantations that were once Hawaii’s lifeblood. As always, Tsukiyama’s storytelling is deeply compassionate, undoubtedly buoyed by her personal ties to the material (her father was Japanese American by way of Hawaii), which lends a quiet and sincere intimacy to the proceedings ... There is plenty of interpersonal drama in this twisting tale of love and loss, but the novel’s true joy and beauty come from the intensely atmospheric writing. Tsukiyama’s prose is lush and sensual, fully immersing the reader in this pocket of paradise and bringing the island’s spirits to life. She elevates Hawaii from a simple setting to a character as dynamic and vital as its human inhabitants ... An intoxicating blend of historical events and fiction ... a richly rewarding reading experience perfect for fans of Lisa See or Isabel Allende, or anyone looking for a magical love story that transcends time.
... the setting and the timeframe of the active volcano—lasting six weeks—light this book. Tsukiyama blankets the reader in the steamy atmosphere of 1930s Hawai’i right from the start ... Gail Tsukiyama’s first novel in almost a decade and it is well worth the wait: a beautiful story set in an even more spectacular setting, one that seems timeless. As the world crumbles under the devastation of climate change, it’s a gentle reminder that humans are but one part of the planet.
Tsukiyama’s descriptions of Hilo are immersive and intimate, taking readers from muggy heat and scorched sugar cane stalks to bright blossoms and choppy ocean waves. The natural world is integral here, and central to her characters’ lives ... The effect is poetic ... in Tsukiyama’s hands we’re reminded that even ordinary lives contain extraordinary depths.