cover image Local: A Memoir

Local: A Memoir

Jessica Machado. Little A, $28.99 (244p) ISBN 978-1-542-02732-8

Machado movingly excavates notions of identity, family, and Native culture in her debut, a memoir. Raised in the 1980s Honolulu suburbs, as the daughter of a Portuguese and Native Hawaiian father and a Southern white mother, Machado was aware of the melting pot of ethnic customs surrounding her, but felt disconnected from her heritage: “For as long as I could remember, I felt a nagging urge in the pit of my stomach to get out of my reality.” While studying abroad in college, she experienced bouts of anxiety and homesickness, which she alleviated by partying and drinking. Later, Machado moved to L.A. to avoid witnessing her mother’s declining health from fibromyalgia and lupus. In 2001, Machado’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and as her reluctant caretaker, Machado careened between love and resentment. Machado’s narrative hums with raw emotion, as she writes of rejecting the idealized island girl stereotype, and as an adult, seeking a connection to her ancestors. Her depiction of Hawaii is far from the carefree paradise shaped by tourists and Western colonialism, and instead offers a sharp consideration of class distinctions and the islands’ history. The result is a luminous coming-of-age portrait. Agent: Lauren Abramo, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (Jan.)