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The Last Aloha

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  929 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
2010 BAIPA Award Winner: Best Historical Fiction. How did Hawaii become part of America? This story, inspired by true events suppressed for nearly 100 years, is the one James Michener never wrote. In 1886, Laura Jennings travels to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. She imagines she'll live in a grass hut, ministering to savages. When she arrives in Honolulu, she's ...more
Paperback, 375 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Lost Coast Press (first published May 15th 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 09, 2016 Misfit rated it really liked it
"And I want my people to know. They should continue to work for justice, but with aloha. It's our essence, like a fragrance is to a flower. Aloha is our spirit, it's who we are. If we don't have that, we're lost, and there is no more Hawaii."

San Francisco late 1880s - Laura Jennings has her whole life in front of her - but tragedy strikes when her father and fiancé are killed in a carriage accident. Laura had hoped to go to medical school, but left alone and with little money she must join her A
Celeste Noelani McLean
May 26, 2015 Celeste Noelani McLean rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I borrowed this book from the library and could not bring myself to finish it before it was due. I didn't feel that it was worth renewing or purchasing since I just could not get invested in the story. And I really ought to have been invested! I am Kanaka Maoli and grew up in Hawaii. I learned a lot about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and some of my family members are active in the Sovereignty movement. What I am trying to say is that I wanted so much to love this book and am disappoint ...more
Jan 29, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hawaii-fiction
In this novel, author Gaellen Quinn tells the true story of the overthrow and imprisonment of Hawaii's last queen and the resulting annexation of Hawaii to the US. This history is not widely known outside of Hawaii.

It can be debated whether or not the US affiliation was good or bad in the long run, in the short run or the future, but there can be no serious debate on the ethics of those who engineered the US annexation. What they did was totally shameful. This novel captures not only the actions
Tara Chevrestt
This had an intriguing start. Laura loses her father and her fiance both and goes to live with her aunt in Hawaii. Her aunt suffers ill health, her uncle is a pure evil villain, and the care of her two girl cousins falls into Laura's hands. Laura eventually realizes (not soon enough in my opinion) that she needs to get out from under her controlling uncle Stephen's rule. (She actually has to have this revelation slapped into her.) Oppurtunity arrises when the heir to the Hawaiian throne, a young ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-2012
This story had such great potential. Unfortunately it was trying to be too many things at once: Historical fiction, romance, drama, history, political intrigue, etc etc. In the process, the story just tripped over its own feet and didn't succeed in any one category. It dealt too intimately with real historical figures and events to be historical fiction. The romance fizzled out halfway through before croaking a sad and pathetic death. The drama was nonexistent because the narrative was too detac ...more
Nov 15, 2013 Season rated it really liked it
What a fabulous book. The history wrapped about this fictional story about Laura and how her life changes from her journey that begins in San Francisco to Honolulu. All the twists and turns were great and most totally unexpected. I totally felt for the Queen and all she had to endure.

This one was a beautifully written story.
Julie Failla Earhart
If you thought that one day the United States decided to annex the Hawaiian Islands, then viola they became the fiftieth state, well, you’d be wrong. In The Last Aloha, Quinn illustrates the duplicity and conniving of Hawaiian politicians to become attached to America.
Quinn cloaks her research in a fictional tale of a young woman, Laura, bound for medical school in 1886. The deaths of her fiancée and father in a carriage accident in busy San Francisco force Laura to go to her aunt’s home in the
Aug 17, 2009 Karla rated it liked it
The mother of one of my college friends wrote this and was actually kind enough to sign my copy. If you're interested in Hawaiian history and culture (especially the late 1800s), you will be fascinated. Usually with historical fiction, I'm more sucked in by the personal story than the historical backdrop. In this case, it was the other way around and I was more interested in the actual history than the struggles of the fictional main character, named Laura. In any case, I learned a lot about Haw ...more
Leilani S
Apr 18, 2010 Leilani S rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome!!! I'm so proud to be Hawaiian!! It's amazing what you're not taught in school about the annexation of Hawaii. I already knew Hawaiian history. But growing up on the mainland you get a different version. It's nice to know that somebody is willing to write a book on what really went on behind the scenes. This is a great book and I recommend it for anybody who has the true spirit of Aloha in their heart.
May 23, 2011 Beverly rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, memoir-bio
This novel told the story of the annexation of of the Kingdom of Hawaii by the United States. After having read other works on this topic, I don't feel the bias mentioned in another review. From the influx of Puritan missionaries in the early 1800s, Americans did Hawaii no favors.

I feel that the story of Laura was a vehicle for the story of the annexation. She was incidental to the author's purpose.
Aug 30, 2010 Marty rated it liked it
I bought this book in Hawaii because I wanted to learn more about the transition from monarchy to statehood. This is a novel, but it is based on the truth. Just as I suspected - there was a lot of misconception and deception involved. The powerful white land owners had to have it their way and stepped all over the peaceful Hawaiian people. Not the most sophisticated writing, but a good read. I learned a lot and enjoyed the story.
Sep 25, 2009 Sherry rated it really liked it
Facinating history of how the islands became part of the US. The story weaves around a young woman uncovering her fathers early life. I only happened upon this book at a signing and have an autographed copy.
Sara DeSantis
Jun 06, 2016 Sara DeSantis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: may-x
A book my father recommended in a genre I do not read often, historical fiction
Oct 23, 2013 Alice rated it really liked it
Loved the history of Hawaii and the blend of real and fictional characters. Very interesting.
Liz Neale
Dec 29, 2016 Liz Neale rated it really liked it
The book is the story of how Hawaii become part of America....story starts in 1886 with Laura Jennings boarding a steamship bound for Hawaii to live with relatives she had never met. Her Uncle Stephen
is a nasty, horrible man and soon Laura goes to work for the Royal family to avoid her conniving uncle's control. Pretty soon she is swept up in a web of intrigue and turmoil as the Missionary Party intensifies its scheme to topple the throne.
Haila Kahoano
Jan 05, 2017 Haila Kahoano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brings to life the unfairness of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy

Most everyone heard about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy but dont know how unfair it was. This book provides some facts that are presented in a way that brings the reader up close and personal and allows them to feel what the people involved is feeling
Dec 14, 2013 Cassie rated it it was amazing
I am still buzzing from the book that is The Last Aloha. My favorite genre of literature is historical fiction. You get the best of both worlds: a captivating personal story along with historical facts, which catapults you back into that time period, like you're really there. The Last Aloha was no different. You throw in my favorite place on earth (Hawaii), sprinkle in some historical figures and events, and you have a happy reader over here.

Logistically, the book flows nicely. There is a rule
Nov 10, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
I'm still surprised by the force with which this novel gripped me. I'm usually leery of fiction in which real historical figures are included in the cast of characters; it seems a little invasive of their privacy, even centuries after the fact. And this novel is full of such characters! But it is beautifully written, and deeply sympathetic to the Hawaiian people--particularly to the last of the monarchs, Kalakaua and Lili'uokalani, who could read the writing on the wall with devastating clarity, ...more
Wessex Warrior
Jun 22, 2016 Wessex Warrior rated it really liked it
I am interested in all things Hawaiian and have read quite a few books about Hawaii. This book addresses a much neglected aspect of Hawaiian history: the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii by American-born descendants of missionaries. I saw an interview with the author who said that the sweeping epic "Hawaii" by Michener failed to even mention this epochal event in Hawaiian history. In terms of American imperialism, it ranks near the top in a list of "Most Shameful Events in American History." H ...more
Sandra Denny
Pitted against the greed of American missionary progeny, the Hawaiian monarch was doomed and its people disenfranchised by unwilling annexation to the U.S. Quinn "Doles"out the facts, using Laura's character to straddle both Hawaiian and Haole worlds. This device give the story the feel of a "bodice ripper" at times.
Nov 02, 2013 Quartknee rated it liked it
Before beginning this book I was already very familiar with the history that forms the backdrop to this story. It was heart-wrenching to read as events unfold, knowing where they were ultimately headed for all of the characters based on actual historical figures.

I hated Laura the protagonist but the other characters and the setting was compelling and this is obviously a very well researched book - it hooked me in despite Laura's flaws... about half-way through I realized how truly Victorian she
Mar 27, 2010 Scilla rated it liked it
This is an historical novel about the end of the Hawaian monarchy. It begins during the reign of Kalakau. Laura Jennings is preparing for her wedding in San Francisco when her fiance Andrew and her father are killed when their carriage is hit by a cable car. In his dying breath, her father asks her to go to his sister in Honolulu. When Laura gets to Honolulu, she finds her aunt is an invalid and Stephen Price, her uncle by marriage is autocratic, expects her to care for his two daughters, act as ...more
I loved this book! It drew you in with Laura's story: having already lost her mother, Laura loses both her father and fiancee in a horrible accident. Now an orphan, Laura goes to Hawaii to live with her father's sister whom she has never met. She expects this missionary family to live simply, ministering to the savages of Hawaii and is shocked and horrified to see that they live in opulent splendor with little respect for the Hawaiians they live among. She soon leaves this household to work for ...more
Aug 22, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Alo: from my presence, from the center of things, Ha: is breath, the breath of life. Aloha.

This is a good history of Hawaii losing its monarchy. Based on fact though it's fiction. It's unbelievable to me how things got done in days like this. How power can over rule simple common knowledge.
I read this book now because I'm leaving for Oahu tomorrow. I wanted to know some of the history before I went. I've been to Hawaii numerous times and each time I learn something of the old ways tha
JoAnn Bassett
Mar 09, 2012 JoAnn Bassett rated it it was amazing
It's hard to know how much of this historical novel is history, and how much is novel, but if you're interested in Hawaiian culture and history it's a great read. When I lived in Hawaii the general consensus was that the U.S. government was solely to blame for the overthrow of the last queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii. If the account in this book is true, the queen was actually overthrown by a small band of disgruntled second-generation missionaries who wanted power to go along with the vast amoun ...more
Mirah W
Jul 28, 2011 Mirah W rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years and I love reading historical fiction about the Islands. After visiting 'Iolani Palace and other historic buildings in Hawaii, I realize there is a mountain of information about the period preceeding the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. To attempt to include all of this information in one novel would be a near-impossible task. With that said, I do think Quinn did a decent job of summarizing what happened without gettin ...more
Juliet Doubledee
Had mixed feelings about Gaellen Quinn's "The Last Aloha";the premise of having a young woman who came from San Francisco witness the over throw of the last monarch of Hawaii up close atracted me to this book, but frankly I found the main character naive and very shallow.

If you can overlook the starry eyed love story in this book and focus on some of the historical information regarding how the haole decendents of the original missionaries bullied the monarchs to acquire land, belittled the isla
Stuart Coleman
May 24, 2016 Stuart Coleman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Beautiful Novel About Hawaii

Quinn's novel offers an intriguing and intimate look at Hawaiian history during the pivotal years of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani's reign. The story is told through the eyes of a haole woman who's an outsider when she arrives in the Islands. But through a remarkable series of events, she becomes the attendant and confidante to Princess Ka'iulani and Queen Liliuokalani. Her perspective on the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom is compelling and heart-breaking.
Robin Ryan
Jul 20, 2013 Robin Ryan rated it really liked it
I have read several books lately regarding the history of Hawaii and how it became our 50th state - and so far this one is my favorite. The story is told through the eyes of fictional character Laura Jennings, who finds herself in Hawaii after an accident claims the lives of her father and fiancee'. Intertwined in the story are mystery, romance, and history. The historical facts seem to line up correctly with the research I have done and I appreciated that the author kept the story accurate with ...more
Rita Haas horne
May 12, 2015 Rita Haas horne rated it it was amazing
This is possibly the best book I have ever read. I love visiting Hawaii and learning about its culture. This book takes you back to a dark time in Hawaii when the Hawaiian Monarchy was over-thrown by the descendants of the missionaries. King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani did their best to prevent this from happening but were not successful. What they were successful at was keeping their gracious Aloha spirit till the day they died and passing this spirit along to their descendants. Gaellen Qui ...more
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“I wonder if these missionaries ever thought how Christ was so continually substituting affirmations for the ‘Thou shalt nots’ of the Old Testament. ‘To love one’s neighbor as oneself’ is certainly harder, but states life so much more actively, gladly, and kindly, that you can begin to see some pleasure in it.” 0 likes
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