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Light Years: A Girlhood in Hawai'i

2.63  ·  Rating details ·  43 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Susanna Moore is best known for her critically acclaimed novels—complex and compelling works like In the Cut and My Old Sweetheart. Now, Moore’s Light Years is a shimmering look at the early life of this cherished novelist. Taking the form of a Commonplace Book, it mixes reminiscences with passages from famous works of literature that were formative in her younger years. B ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Grove Press (first published August 1st 2007)
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Mar 31, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody. Stay away!
Shelves: memoir
Wow! I haven't disliked a book this much since. . .

My grievances are as follows:

The title. Light Years: A Girlhood in Hawai'i is the most misleading title I've ever encountered. This book is NOT about her girlhood in Hawai'i.

The content. Each chapter begins with some random story about her childhood in Hawai'i (10 pages or less) and is then followed by pages and pages and pages of excerpts from books that the author allegedly read during her girlhood.

These excerpts comprise most of the book.
Angie Fehl
Oh good, the reviews here tell me I clearly wasn't the only one confused by the excerpts bits!

Susanna Moore grew up in the 1950s and 60s on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Many locals considered her and her family "haole", a white & privileged family living in a fine home staffed with servants. Moore writes of attending cotillion classes at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Her mother struggled with mental illness and sadly passed away when Moore was only 12 years old.

That's about the gist of what I
Laurel Beth
Her prose was only long enough to have read it in a New Yorker article while waiting for my psychiatrist.
Kathy Hiester
Susanna Moore paints compelling pictures with words. She begins her chronicle with "No memory presents itself of my first acquaintance with the sea. It was always there, and I was always in it." What I soon discovered was that the pictures she paints are not so much of herself, but of the place she happened to be at the time, the oceans that surrounded it, and the books that kept her company.
Moore employs an bizarre arrangement for this book. Following each brief chapter is at least an equal num
A lot of people don't like this book because of the excerpts. However, I really liked them. I didn't find it interrupted the narrative, because she was not writing in chronological order anyway, and she was also just writing about random things. It's sort of a memoir, but not a typical one. She writes about her life, but mostly about how she was affected by the sea growing up, and the excerpts relate to that, as they are all about interactions people have with the sea. It's beautifully written. ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just went to Hawaii for the first time, a short trip to Oah'u. I picked up this book by Susanna Moore just before I left and it was a delightful companion. I was so pleased to find something to anchor an interest in the place (although it was lovely; the ocean colors, the breezes, the music). To have stories, past happenings, to guide an experience of a place is much more interesting. This beautiful little book has short glimpses of Moore's reminiscences of growing up in Hawaii ( Oah'u) and wo ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ???
Shelves: hawaii
I was prepared to really love this book and perhaps that is why I was so extremely disappointed in it. I really enjoyed all of her own personal stories about Hawaii. Unfortunately however the majority of the book is excerpts from other books and while they are selected appropriately and are relevant to her own story, I think this book would have been better if she had stuck to telling her own tales/story. She is a good writer and having lived in Hawaii, I found her insights and stories to be som ...more
I liked this book. The author grew up on O'ahu at the same time my father did, so her stories were familiar to me like not having to wear shoes to school. Honestly, I skipped the author's book and poetry exerpts at the end of each chapter. I just read her memoir sections and I found them to be lovely.
Megan Anderson
I enjoyed the memoir sections, but the excerpts from other authors' works really dragged down the whole book for me. They interrupted the flow, and honestly? I picked up the book because I wanted to read about her life. If I wanted to read, say, something by Robert Louis Stevenson, I'd have read one his books. Extremely disappointing.
Apr 27, 2013 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hawaii
I was aware that while I didn't yet understand what it meant to be attached to this Earth, I did not want to make the mistake of imagining that myth was something available to everyone. I understood that myth was a luxury. (47)
Maureen Flatley
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A reread of an old favorite.....delightful.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book and couldn't get into it. Very disappointed as I had been waiting to read this for a long time.
Lauri Saplad
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Susan Bixler
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Susanna Moore is the author of the novels One Last Look, In the Cut, The Whiteness of Bones, Sleeping Beauties, and My Old Sweetheart, which won the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for First Fiction, and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her nonfiction travel book, I Myself Have Seen It, was published by the National Geographic Society in ...more
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