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House of Many Gods

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  655 ratings  ·  91 reviews
From Kiana Davenport, the bestselling author of Song of the Exile and Shark Dialogues, comes another mesmerizing novel about her people and her islands. Told in spellbinding and mythic prose, House of Many Gods is a deeply complex and provocative love story set against the background of Hawaii and Russia. Interwoven throughout with the indelible portrait of a native Hawaii ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  655 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it

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House of Many Gods by Kiana Davenport was the only book by a Native Hawaiian author I found at my local library. My library did carry a selection of the “top books about or set in Hawaii,” but unfortunately those books are written by White authors or non-Native Hawaiian authors born or living in Hawaii. Kiana Davenport is biracial, Native Hawaiian and White. Her father came to the islands when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: female-author
this book was beautifully written. it follows two stories that gradually interweave. one about a native hawaiian family struggling with poverty, drugs, and unjust u.s. military practices in hawaii. the other about a boy growing up in post world war two russia.

much of the book was horribly depressing, as it dealt with the effects of nuclear testing on civilian populations. thinking of all the lives lost, genetic mutations, birth defects, and cancers caused by all of the nuclear fallout is really
Margaret Higgins
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
pretty interesting. i love stories about hawaii. those islands have had the worst treatment than any other colonial possession. somehow they have retained their uniqueness as a people.
Larry Dunlap
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in long wonderful novels
Recommended to Larry by: via Kaui Hart Hemmings
Shelves: literary-fiction
Kiana Davenport's book House of Many Gods is a wonderful generational novel, beginning in the mid-Sixties and running to present day, along the Waianae coast of Oahu, a neighborhood largely unknown to the outside world. It houses the third-largest homeless population in the United States, made up of mostly ghettoized native Hawaiians. In this novel, set in a house shared by many and various mothers, their children and the occasional father, a story about a young girl takes place. Abandoned by he ...more
Erin Moore
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Kiana Davenport is at her best when describing the world of Hawaii's native people, and she does it well here. Touched with lyricism and the language of a people unknown to many of us, this novel rings with truth and leaves the sadness and mystery of a real life in its wake.

Ana is raised in her extended family's home and yearns for her absent mother. Redemption, forgiveness, and acceptance must all be taught at a hard price to Ana and her mother in this novel. At times I wanted to shake Ana; th
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rated-five-stars
I read this when it was first published, the third of Davenport's novels set in Hawaii. This story extends from Nanakuli, on the island of Oahu, to Archangel'sk, in Russia. Usually I devour good stories, but this one floored me. I would read a little and begin crying, pretty soon sobbing, and I couldn't read the words, so I would have to put it down and come back later to the story. And the story, oh my, love, loss and redemption in abundance. I couldn't pick up another book for days after finis ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
For fans of Kiana Davenport, this book does not disappoint. It again explores history - this time that of Hawaii and Russia. It again challenges the reader to explore current day issues - this time the potential consequences of environmental pollution. And, again, she draws us into the lives of people damaged by drugs, war, poverty, stubbornness and despair. Kiana Davenport has a gift for describing Hawaii and its people while weaving in several detailed, and sometimes odd, story lines. Whether ...more
Christie Bane
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautifully written book that gave me what I wanted from my Hawai'i reading list -- a better understanding of the REAL Hawai'i, away from Honolulu and Waikiki. Ana is a native Hawai'ian born in a village far up the coast from Honolulu. She grows up there with her large extended family, lots of them damaged physically and psychologically by the Vietnam War. The valley where she comes from is full of problems -- gangs, drugs, violence -- and she is deserted by her mother and raised by h ...more
3.5 stars. Of course, I loved how much Hawaii culture that Davenport infused into this novel. I also appreciated how she wove together the underlying themes of nuclear testing, the fallout from that (including cancer), and the Hawaiian environmental justice movement. Davenport tends to write about strong women who alienate the people they love out of their need for self-sufficiency, and Ana was the epitome of that. I understand why Ana made the choices she did, but I still wanted to shake her so ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kiana Davenport is a find! If you love reading and love books which teach something new, do not pass this up.

I doubt you find House of Many Gods on lists recommended for feel good book clubs; it is far too real and raw for the I want to hear something positive crowd. I am not aware that Oprah has recommended it and I doubt she will.

There is a family story, a romance, a young determined woman from disadvantaged background overcomes obstacles and does well story as well as the searing story of a l
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really good read. So chock full of details you knew the author had to be a native Hawaiian. I have been there several times and got hints of the culture there, but this book gave the reader a deep dive into the familial relationships inherent in Hawaiian culture. Oddly, I found most of the secondary characters to be more fleshed out and interesting than the main character, which made the book feel like an autobiography by a person who wasn't as self aware as much as being a good observer and c ...more
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2018
What intrigued me about this book was the unlikely connection between Russia and Hawaii. Both cultures are equally familiar to me as places I've called home. Davenport has produced an accurate capture of two very unique and somewhat inscrutable cultures, and she did so with sensitivity and bluntness. It's a fascinating read and, while the characters are not naturally sympathetic, they compel you into their story and world. One of my goals in reading is to find empathy with a person or culture I ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this right after finishing "The Song of the Exile," which I read to continue my focus on Pacific Islander authors during Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (May) as well as my push to read more Native and Latinx authors this year. And I generally liked that one and "Shark Dialogues" better than this one. (The three books are somewhat interlinked, especially Exile and House. Pono from Shark appears in Exile.)

Her writing has a sweeping quality that drew me into the story and wor
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was depressing but it's a story that needs to be told in this depressing manner. It is a love story, but not in the traditional sense. The writing made the book drag on forever for me, and I couldn't get into it. However, I loved all the traditional Hawaiian knowledge and the plight and frustration native Hawaiians went through in regards to their sacred lands and environmental justice. It made me miss Hawaii's beauty and made me ache for all the troubles that the native Hawaiians went ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted to,like this, I really did.... and I did like learning a little about Hawaiian culture, but that’s about all I liked. The characters seemed shallow and unconvincing, the plot was either predictable or outrageously unlikely — a wealthy, wise and generous male benefactor! an obstetrician giving birth without even a trained midwife on hand! glamorous Russian dissidents! —- the result was that I really didn’t care about any of these people. I had to force myself to finish the book.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story explains the Hawaiian side of the despoiling of their islands. Emotional but factual. Love the story of the family, all it's joys and troubles. The pride of one of the family becoming a doctor and staying in the islands . The mother that couldn't stay but supported the family for all the years.
Helen O'Neil
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poetic, elegant and bittersweet, like all of Davenport's novels. Her depictions of old-school indigenous Hawaiian culture are pregnant with ancient meaning. I did find the love story between Ana and Max to be a bit fetishized. But no one writes nationalist fiction like Davenport. This book belongs in the annals of great literature.
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I found the history in this book interesting but the misery was sort of overdone, even for me, to the point that it stopped losing meaning. I also didn't find the love story believable so I didn't feel invested in it. I would try another one of her novel's, but this one was just so so for me.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: hawaii
This is a beautifully written book, full of evocative imagery and memorable characters. I feel like I learn something about Hawaiian culture and heritage when I read Davenport's books and this one is no exception. However, as much as I found the passages about Niki's childhood near a Russian gulag captivating, I felt that story line detracted from the main story and felt like 2 stories merged into one. I also felt that the plot events in post Glasnost Russia were a stretch, at times being hard t ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly the most beautifully written book I've ever read.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite
James R. Zimmerman
Great book exp!oring Russian and Hawaiian cultures

Read it on a trip to Hawaii and it kept me interested in Hawaiian culture and history with a good story.
Marilyn Geary
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ever read a book and discover that all your truths have been turned upside down? This book did that for me. A profound book. Highly recommended.
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book, especially if you have an interest in Hawai'i and the maoli kanaka (local folks). Davenport's story tells how ohana (family) and hoa aloha (friends) can sometimes hurt but ultimately heal. I loved her main characters. They certainly rang true for me. The book's secondary theme--worldwide environmental pollution caused by nuclear waste--I felt was handled in a predictable and sometimes heavy hitting way, though I have the same point of view as Davenport.

Reading others'
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
What I liked:
*descriptions of Hawaii, its landscape, people and culture
*learning about how the U.S.government used the Hawaiian Islands as bomb testing grounds, which destroyed the environment and imperiled residents' health
*experiencing a different economic class than is usually portrayed in novels about Hawaii
*the idea of the plot (two people who have been bruised and battered by their circumstances find an unlikely love)
*the cover

What I disliked:
*few of the characters were believable
*I found
Jun 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
This was a nice book about both Hawaii and Russia. I have to admit that I didn't find this to be exactly a page turner. It took me about three weeks to get through it and while I was interested in the characters, I wouldn't say it was riveting. I guess I felt this way because I found the main character a little standoffish. She spent half the book hating her mother then the next half ignoring her family. She couldn't get over the events that happened to her and actually live. At times I just wan ...more
Missy Sherriff
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
A 3.5 for me. Beautifully written at times, but I felt the author tried to do too much. The book would have improved dramatically if it had been more focused. There was definitely one central character, but other characters and their stories were ALMOST as central, and although these characters were integral to the main character, their stories should have been presented more as background and less as equivalent story lines. It almost felt like 3 separate but related novels should have been writ ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Silloo and I read this aloud together. We both loved it. It is a love story between a native Hawaiian woman, abandoned by her mother and growing up in poverty on the dusty, unforgiving Wai'anae Coast of Oahu, and a charming, damaged Russian who was born in a gulag during communism's horrors. The story is anchored in the deep, earthy tribal spirituality of the indigenous Hawaiians, their tradition of story and family. This is counterbalanced with a hair raising visit to post Glasnost Russian wher ...more
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in Hawaiian and Russian Cultures.
Shelves: cultural-novels
As a transplant to Hawaii, I am always interested in learning more about the Hawaiian people and their culture. This story takes place on the Waianae coast of Oahu, a largely poor Hawaiian area. It is a story that weaves together themes of Ohana (family), especially mothers and daughters, the politics of marginalization of cultures, the detrimental effects of military bombing and toxic waste and a love story! The lead male character is from Russia, and the book describes the harsh conditions mos ...more
Val Wilkerson
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-books-read
Another great book by Kiana Davenport. Her two main characters are Ana, native hawaiian
girl, raised by her aunties & uncles after her mother left her when she was only 4 to
move to San Francisco. It seemed like a cruel thing for Anahola, her mother to have done,
but you fall in love with the aunties and uncles. Makes you think about your own aunts
and uncles and what a truly important role they play in our lives. The other main character
is Niki, born in Russia into poverty and cold. Ana & Niki's li
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KIANA DAVENPORT is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother, Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing. On her mother's side, Kiana traces her ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Isl ...more

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