cover image Shark Bait

Shark Bait

Graham Salisbury. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32237-9

Far from the resort hotels and honeymooners, Salisbury (Under the Blood-Red Sun) once again invites readers to view his Hawaii, where hard-working locals eke out an often unglamorous living in the island paradise. Mokes spends the waning days of summer working out in preparation for freshman football and hanging out with his friends. Then a U.S. Navy destroyer drops anchor off the Big Island and the white uniformed ""swabbys"" or ""milk bottles"" come ashore for some R&R. Everyone in town knows that the combustible mix of rowdy officers and equally riled local boys always means trouble: shopkeepers board up their windows; people stay indoors. But as night falls, Mokes must choose between being a ""Daddy's boy"" (and obeying the curfew set by his police chief father) or sticking by his tough guy buddies. What unfolds is a tense, fast-paced tale of male posturing, racial discord and the violence wrought by short, immature tempers. Salisbury's liberal use of the clipped, staccato-sounding local English evokes an exotic community, in which Mokes and his friends grapple with such universal coming-of-age issues as loyalty, honesty, trust and self-confidence. Salisbury uses Mokes's caring, assured parents as a stable moral center to sound out larger ideas about gun violence, broken homes and the complicated emotional makeup of young men. Teens will likely be caught up in this affecting and taut slice-of-life novel about making tough choices. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)