Little Too Much is Enough

Kathleen Tyau, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-374-18950-1
Tyau's first novel, set in Honolulu during the years following WWII, is an evocative story of a Hawaiian girl whose extended family blends Chinese and Japanese traditions with the changing values of Hawaiian and American culture. In short chapters, we are guided through family meals, gatherings and outings by hip, young Suzanne Mahealani--``Mahi'' for short--who, unlike the older generation of women in her clan, eventually goes to college, in Oregon. Mahi's voice is strong, but it can't carry the whole story line, which suffers from loose and sometimes confusing chronology and plotting. Still, Mahi coveys the rhythm of life on the island for a restless teenager and makes sharp observations about numerous, often hilarious family eating scenes: ``At every nine-course dinner, as far back as I can remember, Aunty Nona waited until the food came out and we were ready to dive in. Then she'd make us wait while she took a picture. In all her photos, our heads are chopped off, but the food looks great.'' This light novel with serious moments conjures well the mood of the islands, which seem no longer exotic but still rich in folk wisdom. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995
Release date: 07/01/1995
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-393-31559-2
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