Jasmin Iolani Hakes's debut novel, Hula, is an emotionally resonant, lyrical depiction of the complicated relationships among three generations of Hawaiian women and their homeland. Hakes blends reality and fiction in her hometown of Hilo, Hawai'i, as she follows three women in the Naupaka Ohana from the 1960s through the 1990s.

After enduring her mother Hulali's near-obsessive hula training, Laka leaves Hilo immediately after winning the real-life Miss Aloha Hula competition. Two years later, Laka returns to Hilo--with a red-haired, light-skinned baby. Baby Hi'i grows up in the shadow of her mother's hula win and temporary flight, dogged by prejudice from her grandmother and rumors that Laka isn't her birth mother. Laka and Hi'i are determined to be different from their mothers, but they both struggle with family and cultural expectations. Laka is an inconsistent parent, even if she never gives in to her mother's demands for a birth certificate. Hi'i follows in Laka's footsteps and leaves Hilo as soon as possible, without notice. When she returns to Hilo with her own children, Hi'i's family must confront decades of conflict and hurt. Throughout, Hakes adeptly ties the Naupakas' path to the history of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and its illegal annexation by the United States.

Like its namesake, Hula evokes the spirit of Hawai'i: the land and its people, their struggles and joys, and the complexities of survival under colonialism. Hula is an ode to family, home, and culture for fans of Brit Bennett and Tommy Orange. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

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