At last! A young adult fiction book that is not only well written, but about us. "Us" meaning Polynesians and more specifically, Samoans. What an absolute pleasure to read about these two main characters, Leila and Daniel, and their developing relationship. It doesn't hurt that this tale also consists of the beauty of the Samoan culture, strength (most especially strong female characters whether they are evil or not), and a play on Polynesian legends. The dialogue is seamless, which is not an easy task as a writer well knows. And the relationship development between the many characters is well thought out, again, not an easy task. My favorite characters?
*Simone: A GORgeous fa'afafine who epitomizes the best of the third gender. (Can I get two snaps with a twist and a HEY!) I can think of several fa'afafine I knew growing up in American Samoa and I think most Samoans can reminisce about a "Simone" in their lives. A girls best friend and defender. Extremely graceful dancers. Trusted confidants. Our personal cheerleaders.
*Salamasina: Daniel's grandmother and a very strong female character. She's a hard woman but only because she is trying to take care of her family. Her knowledge of medicinal plants is something that should be studied in today's modern world of synthesized medication. I didn't know my grandmother very well, she died when I was 8, but I can see my grandmother in this woman.
I encourage everyone to read this book, whether you're Polynesian or not. It's a true modern love story with all of the twists and turns to keep you turning pages (paper or kindle).