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Sharks in the Time of Saviors

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  6,027 ratings  ·  1,089 reviews
In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa's family, struggling amidst the co
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by MCD
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Katherine I just finished the audiobook, and recommend listening to it to hear the Hawaiian vernacular. There are multiple narrators to help bring each characte…moreI just finished the audiobook, and recommend listening to it to hear the Hawaiian vernacular. There are multiple narrators to help bring each character to life. (less)
Kawai Everyone has their own ideas of what's appropriate for children at what age, so my best answer is to describe the potentially problematic content: rec…moreEveryone has their own ideas of what's appropriate for children at what age, so my best answer is to describe the potentially problematic content: recreational drug use, profanity, complicated sexuality, and a few scenes of potentially uncomfortable material including homophobia and sexism (although these last two are relatively brief). Having said all that, it's probably most appropriate for those high school age or older, and the younger kids that sneak off with it (you know who you were) are probably ready for it anyway.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,027 ratings  ·  1,089 reviews

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Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How long was I stupid enough to believe we were indestructible? But that's the problem with the present, it's never the thing you're holding, only the thing you're watching, later, from a distance so great the memory might as well be a spill of stars outside a windshield at twilight

i put off reading this until shark week, only to discover that the shark content in this book is MINIMAL. however, this FAMILY, this STORY—i was as unprepared for what this book actually was as i was for how damn good
Jon Nakapalau
Magical realism is interwoven with the legends of Hawai’i in this haunting novel about family and destiny. When Nainoa Flores falls into the Pacific Ocean it seems as if this is the end when sharks start to appear in the water. Everyone is sure the child will meet with a tragic end until (Noa) is gently delivered back to his mother in the jaws of a shark. In Hawai’ian legends Kāmohoaliʻi is the shark god associated with protection and guidance; families that relied upon the sea for a livelihood ...more
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: 2020-favorites
Pretty great. There was a lot of olfactory stuff going on in the middle. Could probably use a few less f-bombs.

This is worth a read:
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A Hawaiian family is thrown into turmoil when their middle son, Nainoa, is saved from drowning by sharks. He seems to develop an ability to heal but not all gifts are gifts. The novel follows Noa and his siblings as they attempt to forge their own identities, and the parents as they try to make ends meet.
This book was selected for the Tournament of Books CampToB so I'm looking forward to more people in my circles reading it. It's a very strong debut!

I had an ARC from the publisher which I read
Richard Derus
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, quiltbag
PENAmerica Hemingway Award for Debut Novel Winner!

Real Rating: 4.5* of five

The voices of these characters whose family, that awful itchy nest, is wrapped in a golden mist of mythological reality, are shouting their horror and pain at the void inside them, the one that Being Different opens in all of us...and who could possibly be more different than a boy saved by a shark? Author Washburn will gladly fill you in on who: The whole damned crew, that's who, e
Apr 06, 2020 marked it as dnf
DNF @ page 66

I think the fact that this is the first book I've DNF'd in 8 years says it all.  Between the painfully labored prose - it's one of those books where it feels like the author is trying to imbue every single sentence with Meaning - and the fact that all four protagonists that I've encountered so far have the exact same narrative voice, I just can't.  This reads like an unfinished MFA project.
May 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I got excited when I read this was a magical realism book set in Hawaii and followed a native Hawaiian family. 

Noa is one of three children, the gifted one, who was rescued by sharks when he accidentally went overboard on a cruise ship. Noa's powers to communicate with animals as well as to heal become the centre of family attention, making his brother's and sister's achievements less important and causing a divide in the family.  

Unfortunately the prose and the narration voice didn't click with
The Artisan Geek
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing

The author was so kind to send me a copy. Can't wait to start reading!

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Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Sadly, “Sharks In the Time of Saviors” was a bit too mystical and supernatural for my liking. It’s a character driven story containing Hawaiian dialect and vernacular. I wonder if I listened to the story, I would have enjoyed it more. I felt like I was translating sentences a lot of the time. I found that listening to a dialect is easier to figure out than reading it…at least for me.

It’s a story of a Hawaiian family who believe in Hawaiian folklore and magic. They are poor and barely scrape by.
I borrowed this audiobook towards the end of last year but I was too busy and couldn't concentrate so I returned it unread. I'm so glad I remembered to try it again, as it was such a delightful novel.

The writing was beautifully lyrical and the magical realism elements didn't overwhelm, they just added fairy dust for lack of a better metaphor.

The characters of this novel are the members of the Flores family, the matriarch, Malia, and her husband, Augie, and their three kids - two boys, Dean and N
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am not a fan of magical realism but this Hawaiian family narrative is filled with the primal power of the Hula. A throbbing story that addresses head-on the issues of class, race, and poverty. You can feel the rhythm of islands chanting for recognition of its lore, fables, and legends through this family bound together by love and their undulating homeland that will not be ignored.

Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
The author of Sharks in the Time of Saviours, was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. This grounding has put the author in good stead to produce an authentic novel set in Hawaiʻi. Kawai Strong Washburn presents a contextual family drama, that encompasses themes of class, poverty, economics, opportunity, culture, old world faith, belief systems, magical realism and survival.

Opening in the year 1994, Sharks in the Time of Saviours simultaneously reveals the cultural fabric of this natio
DNF 25%

The summary, title, and cover of Sharks in the Time of Saviors piqued my interest. Magical realism? A not so rosy take on the 'chosen one'? Yes, please.

Sadly, 1/4 in and I find the story to be far more focused on Nainoa's siblings who whine about how overshadowed they feel by him and how unfair it all is that their parents pay him more attention. And...while I was expecting the novel to touch upon sibling rivalry, I wasn't prepared for it to be the sole focus of the story.
Nainoa has very
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sharks in the Time of Saviours is the first novel by Hawaiian-born author, Kawai Strong Washburn. Conceived on a night when the gods roam the Big Island, Nainao Flores is different from the start, and it eventually becomes more apparent how special he is. Gifted (or plagued) with premonitory visions, saved by sharks, able to heal, a boy so singular is bound to be treated differently. So young, yet believing himself charged with the salvation of the islands.

But this (perhaps) messiah is not an on
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Great Hawaiian Novel mixes forgotten gods with real, forgotten lives.

The plot taking audacious turns is but one of the many splendors inside of "Sharks." The last third of the novel is a devastating portrait; the first sections invigorate with the unwinding of three individual fates of the siblings, the Hawaiian youth--how different they are & yet how they fit within the family unit, are indispensable, in fact, without one another--is why betting on Washburn's future permanence in the canon
lark benobi
Reading this novel felt like I was holding sand in my hands. It took a lot of effort for me personally to hold the sense of story together as I read. The story kept wanting to sift away from me. I was rewarded by the soaring musicality of some passages, but as the novel progressed the story gradually lost coherence for me and I wasn't sure any longer what it was about. When this happens to me it usually means I've misunderstood the author intent at the beginning, and that the novel deserves a re ...more
Gloria Arthur

Sharks in the Time of Saviours is a Hawaiian family saga.

The story begins when this family who are trying to make ends meet are taking a rare holiday and seven-year-old Ninoa falls overboard into the ocean and is dangerously surrounded by four sharks. Miraculously he is carried safety and gently back to the boat in the mouth of a shark.

Through this freak act of nature Ninoa then becomes a legend and is thought to be gifted with special powers of the gods that will heal people. His siblin
Sonja Arlow
Jun 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Sometimes literary fiction is hard to digest, even if the writing is clearly strong.

At first glance this seems like a story about a young boy with a mystical connection to nature. When he falls overboard on a ship, a circle of sharks do not devour him but gently delivers him to his mother.

This is the moment that will divide and test the family for the rest of their lives. As Nainoa is “special” his needs and wants are placed above that of his siblings, driving a seemingly insurmountable wedge b
Not what I expected, but it turned out to be really good nonetheless.

I found out about this book very recently from a 'new releases you should check out' article (maybe from Tor). The title grabbed me immediately since it has sharks in it. And the cover! As a marine enthusiast, my heart leaped with joy due to the opportunity to read a fantasy book with sharks in it.

I was wrong. The novel barely had sharks in it. It's more literary fiction, imbued with magical realism you could find in Isabel Al
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a modern literary fiction imbued with magical realism in line with Latin American literature. A very strong debut novel about a Hawaiian family, estranged from their ancestral land and thrown into the modern world. I read is as a part of monthly reading for May 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group.

There four different voices that tell the story of the family: a mother and her three children, two boys and a girl. The mother, Malia, is a simple loving woman, straightforward i
Carmel Hanes
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what to expect from this novel, and even as I began, the story seemed to morph in focus as I read, keeping me from settling into complacency. It takes Hawaiian folk lore, mixes it with magical realism, and stirs in family dynamics creating layers of struggle--to understand others and ourselves, to find our place and survive.

There are several alternating points of view that create the narrative, that of the three kids and their mother through most of the book. At times the language
Mar 16, 2020 marked it as dnf
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
DNF @ 4%

4% of the book is enough to tell that this prose is 100% not for me.
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2021
3.5 with a first-novel round up.

A promising premise, and a truly fascinating glimpse of life in the non-tourist native culture of Hawai'i that the brochures don't show you. I liked the blend of gritty details of working class life with flashes of magic, and there is some very lyrical writing. The novel’s early chapters are among the best and most original writing I have read in a long time. The problem is that the book has long flabby parts, and never recovers the enchantment of the beginning.
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Leaning towards 4.5 stars

A beautiful and intense narration. A tale of a Hawai'ian family battling with poverty, cultural identity and the respective place in the family. While the parents unintentionally favour one son, because he seems to be touched by their ancient gods, the other two siblings try to master their lives in the shadow of their brother.

In a vernacular, authentic voice Washburn presents the estrangement in four POVs (the three siblings and the mother). For the audiobook four diffe
Suzanne thebookblondie
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn (#21 in 2020)

Thank you to @mcdbooks @fsgbooks for my gifted copy. PUB DATE: 3/3/2020

When Nainoa was 7 years old, he fell overboard on a family trip. As sharks began to appear in the water, everyone naturally assumed that Noa was a goner. One of the sharks however, cradled Noa in its jaws and carefully brought him back to his family. It was as if the sharks recognized the greatness in Noa and knew his time on earth was worth more than a meal.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So far the summer Camp TOB has been a hit for me. I loved this tale of a Hawaiian family whose children have great ambitions. In this author's debut each of the three of them have a special talent that poverty makes it difficult to nurture. The story is intertwined with elements of magical realism and Hawaiian legend....really unique and interesting like nothing I've read before. The audiobook boasts 4 narrators that truly make this story come alive. This one is matched against N.K. Jemisin's Th ...more
Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
QUICK TAKE: Family drama with a hint of Hawaiian mysticism. Loved the family dynamics and the specificity of the storytelling. I would have preferred the family members to interact with one another more throughout the book (they all live mostly disparate lives for a majority of the book), and I was engaged the most with the characters in Hawaii versus the characters on the mainland, but overall I very much recommend this one.
Sage Agee
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
WOW okay!!! I was not expecting the absolute gut punch of this book. Kawai Strong Washburn managed to write a story so deeply connected to the indigeneity of Hawaii, grief, and the way the land can heal a family. There were elements of this book that felt oddly specific to me as the reader, like just a ~tidbit~ to root me into the story.

Lesbian rep, honestly Kaui was one of the best (easily) developed and relatable characters I’ve ever read. I don’t know if it was a *great* choice to read this
Mar 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buzzwordathon21
Magical realism, a native Hawaiian family, Hawaii, family drama, and lyrical writing. Big yes.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sharks In the Time of Saviours by Kawai Strong Washburn is technically my first read of 2020 and what a truly enthralling read. So much so I stayed up way past midnight to finish it! This is a book that needs to be experienced, to be breathed in to your soul and made a part of you. It is one I can see myself reading again and again over the years.
The story takes place in Hawai’i, O'ahu, and the mainland. The writing is so transportive I felt like I was back visiting again for a short time.

It is
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