Glass Beach

Jill Marie Landis, Author
Jill Marie Landis, Author Jove Books $6.99 (355p) ISBN 978-0-515-12285-5
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In her novel set in late-19th-century Hawaii, Landis splendidly recreates the slightly fetid lushness of tropical nature and the islands' unique blending of Anglo, Asian and indigenous culture right down to the Hawaiian and pidgin that her characters speak. However, paradise has its tensions. In 1888, Elizabeth Bennett and her young daughter Hadley have no reason to trust Spencer Laamea, the hapa haole (half-white) illegitimate son of Elizabeth's abusive--and now thankfully dead--husband. Her first introduction to this striking young man is when she discovers Spencer is trustee of the near-ruined cattle ranch on Kauai until Hadley turns 18. Land rights, cultural clash and deep-seated mistrust, plus life-threatening dangers create tension throughout, though Spencer's tragic loss of his young wife gets surprisingly thin treatment. Landis weaves together a strong drama and an unconventional ending, which interestingly omits marriage, in keeping with the prejudices of the times. (June)
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