Jan Warner-Poole, September 10, 2006 (view all comments by Jan Warner-Poole)
This is a funny and wonderful novel by Tahitian writer Clestine Hitiura Vaite. She really brings the island and it's people to life. It centers around the love and stife between a mother, Maternena and her headstrong, beautiful daughter, Leilani. The mother/daughter relationship is universal but there are some interesting twists. You'll learn along the way, about life and customs in Tahiti.
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Back Bay Books -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In this whimsical, charming novel (her first to be published in the U.S.), Vaite introduces readers to proud 'professional cleaner' Materena Mahi, one of the spunkiest, wisest, lovingest women on the island of Tahiti. With her combustible husband missing after a minor domestic squabble, Materena learns she's pregnant with a daughter. What will she do? Move on — until Pito moves back, of course. 'Girls hurt their mother from the day they come into this world.... Girls are a curse,' say some island women, but Matarena is delighted with her baby, Leilani, who soon grows into a free-spirited, curious, and sometimes troublesome girl. Materena instructs Leilani in all the folk knowledge of Tahiti — e.g., 'To get rid of unwanted guests without hurting their feelings, broom around their feet' — but she can't answer all Leilani's impossible questions ('Who started the French Revolution? What's the medical term for the neck?'). Materena decides to send her to a good Catholic school, but if Leilani makes her a grandmother before she's 40, she's going to scratch out her eyes. Of course Leilani falls in love too young, which is just one of the family troubles Materena weathers with patience — and passion. This story of love, gossip and growing up (even at 40) has all the irresistible freshness of a warm breeze." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Vaite uses words to paint a vivid Tahitian landscape worthy of a Gauguin painting and delivers a memorable story about big dreams on a small island."
"Conveying a deep respect for women's strength and peppered with catchy aphorisms, this funny and moving mother-daughter story should have wide appeal."
by Library Journal,
"An intriguing slice of Tahitian life."
In Tahiti, it's a well-known fact that women are wisest, mothers know best, and Materena Mahi knows best of all — or so everyone except for her own daughter thinks. Soon enough, mother and daughter are engaged in a tug-of-war that tests the bonds of their love.
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