When the author contacted me and asked me to review Haole Wood I jumped on it. A few hours in Hawaii? Beautiful beaches, beautiful people, sun, sand and adventure? I’m in!
Jaswinder Park is living her dream as a TV weather girl in San Diego. When she has to go to Maui to bail her old Hawaiian healer grandmother (whom she barely knows and can’t understand) out of jail for selling pot, she not only loses her job but her whole life. Or so she thinks.
Haole Wood is a funny, lighthearted tale that takes us on Jaswinder’s journey of self-discovery. Stuck (stuck?) in Maui, feeling sorry for herself and ruminating on the disaster that is her life, she becomes involved in the murder of a prominent island resident. Her grandmother is arrested for his murder, and Jaswinder begins to learn some important life lessons as she works to prove her innocence. With the aid, I might add, of a giant, naked Hawaiian guardian angel who has a penchant for showing up at the most inopportune times.
This book is a delightful blend of romance, mystery and adventure. Dee DeTarsio has a talent for dialogue and expressing her characters’ voices and personalities in a very real way. So talented, in fact, that I came to adore Halmoni even though she could only speak two words of English — “Not that.” And Jaswinder, oh, Jaswinder. There were a couple of times when I wished I could turn that girl over my knee. Maybe that’s because I saw bits and pieces of my younger self in her stubborn, flighty nature. But that’s also a part of her considerable charm.
And the setting — how can you go wrong with Maui? Well, you can. I’ve seen it done. But the author does an outstanding job of whisking us away to the island paradise that is Maui, giving us a peek at real life on the island away from the resorts and tourist traps. You also get a little primer on Hawaiian language and culture here and there. The only drawback? You’re going to look up from your book and be really mad that your feet aren’t buried in the sand on a beach in Maui.
I throughly enjoyed watching Jaswinder get to know and love her grandmother, herself, and her Hawaiian heritage. Her lighthearted romance with Dr. Jac was engaging and sweet, and I was delighted when her company “Haole Wood” (which makes “sunshminas”, her Hawaiian version of pashminas) took off. Most of all, though, I was thrilled when Jaswinder began to feed the turtle of love and integrity and left the turtle of fear and greed to starve.
If you’re looking to escape into an enchanting land of warm ocean breezes filled with love, mystery and adventure, Haole Wood is the book for you. It is a fun, relaxing read filled with delightful characters with a few life lessons thrown in.
Dee DeTarsio is the author of the San Diego Book and Writing Awards finalists The Scent of Jade and The Kitchen Shrink. You can follow her on Twitter @DeDeTarsio, on Facebook, or at her blog: http://deedetarsio.wordpress.com/ Aloha!