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Behold the Many

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  164 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In 1913, stricken by tuberculosis, young Anah, Aki, and Leah are sent away from their family for treatment at St. Joseph's, an orphanage in Hawai'i's Kalihi Valley. Of the three, two will die there, and only Anah, the eldest, will survive. But the ghosts of the dead sisters will haunt Anah as she prepares to begin married life away from the orphanage. Desperate for the lov ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Picador USA (first published 2006)
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Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book isn't for everyone.

That being said, the reasons why many people won't like this book is exactly why I loved this novel. The setting is historical fiction, with mystical realism characters, and themes of what it meant to be the children of poor immigrants in Hawaii, and to be a woman at that time. Using beautiful, poetic language, the author describes bleak circumstances, and the hard realities of the time. Her characters also speak in pidgin, Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Japanese. It too
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: hawaii
Reminded me a bit of Peony in Love with unsettled, needy, lonely ghosts, in this case the ghosts of children particularly Anah's sisters Aki and Leah who die of tuberculosis in St. Joseph's orphanage.
Anah is also in the orphanage, sick with tuberculosis. Anah, Aki and Leah's situation is worse than some as they have been deserted by their family as well.
Anah falls in love and at 18 is able to leave the orphanage and marry the boy she loves. But she is plagued by the ghost of her husband's dead
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book, so well written. Gorgeous syntax and style. Sad, but so satisfying to read. You will be immersed in history. It gives you a good picture of plantation life and the co-mingling of cultures and ethnicities in Hawaii during the early 1900's.
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In 1913, Tomas Madeiros sends his youngest daughter Leah, stricken with tuberculosis, to a Catholic orphanage in Oahu's Kalihi Valley. Her older sister Aki follows in 1914, and eldest sister Anah in 1915. Although the girls' mother Sumi and beloved brother Charles promise to visit, on the one visiting day each month, the Madeiros girls are the only patients who receive no one. As far as Tomas and eldest son Thomas are concerned, the girls are dead, and Tomas doesn't allow either Charles, now liv ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Behold the Many, set in Hawaii from 1913 to 1939, tells the story of Anah, a half-Japanese and half-Portuguese girl who is sent to an orphanage along with her younger sisters after all three get tuberculosis. Anah's beloved mother and brother seem to forget her there, and when her sisters die, she is alone in the world except for their vindictive spirits, who punish her for surviving and lying to them about their family coming to bring them home. Yamanaka's depiction of the ghost children is bot ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book brought me back to reading after going through years in school where extra curricular books were not an option. I remember being utterly transported and engrossed. The writing is so lovely, yet dark. It was at turns frightening and others exhilarating. This was a great example of how a writer can write about sad things without depressing the reader, while still allowing us to feel so deeply for the characters we are getting to know.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book is like none other I ever read, except maybe "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, but in my view Yamanaka's achievement is beyond Morrison's. This book does for the Asian diaspora and mixed raced Asians what Morrison does for African-Americans in her work. I have never read a book until this one that had a character who was like me, mixed with Asian and European blood. I never read a book until now that had Okinawan characters, Okinawa being where my father grew up. And of the Catholic books I'v ...more
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Behold the Many is set in Hawaii and is the story of Leah, the child of a Portuguese father and Japanese mother. When she and two younger sisters get tuberculosis they are sent to a Catholic orphanage to recover but are, for all intents and purposes, abandoned. After the two sisters die, Leah is visited by her sister's ghosts, all of the other children who died at the orphanage and most horrifyingly her incredibly abusive father who continues to molest his ghost children. These ghosts continue t ...more
Betty Palcsak
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I finished this book at last and it will stay with me for a long time. It seemed to take me forever to write but I liked the main character so much, I had to finish it. It is a bit difficult to read because the author writes in broken English--pidgin, Japanese, and Portuguese--and the story is heavy--3 young sisters who are sent to an orphanage in 1913 Hawaii because they have TB and their parents cannot care of them. Father is Portuguese (and an abuser)and Mother is Japanese--interracial marria ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm reading this book for a second time and it feels just like the first time. Though it is a novel, every bit of it is poetry. The story follows a girl as she grows up through Hawaii's plantation days. We follow her through her battles of tuberculosis, a hellish orphanage, friendships, puberty, love, marriage, racism, and motherhood. Of course, that's a few things this book is about. I warn you though that a lot of the dialogue is written in pidgin so many will probaby find it hard to understan ...more
Gianna Mosser
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I think I set myself up for a little disappointment here, because Blu's Hanging is still one of the best books I ever read. I didn't get the dimensions between siblings and family as much in this work, and I am sure that distance was intended to demonstrate the frailty of life and how emotions couldn't be spared in the face of tragedy after tragedy. But it was still hard to relate. Add to that some ghostly conversation turns, and I felt a little lost at moments in the narrative. But Yamanaka is ...more
Kyle Apuna
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Yamanaka captures a haunting snapshot of the cultural and spiritual clashes of immigrant Hawai`i at the turn of the century. Through graceful pidgin and intimate detail of a land and people from a Hawaiian era long ago, Yamanaka immersed me in an ominous tale of a cursed, hapa orphan fighting to secure a sense of family and belonging. A story filled with magical realism, painful loss, and elegant imagery, Behold the Many enveloped me in one resilient spirit's journey to finding genuine love and ...more
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sad, deep, yet heart warming and encouraging for women to stay strong to survive. Not sure if you can truly translate the pidgin to capture the true essence of the hard immigrant multi-cultural life of those times. Excellent historical fiction story about plantation life in early 1900s in Hawaii. I truly felt like I was there and yearned to enjoy the fragrances of white ginger, pikake, and other aromatic floral and fauna scents of old Oahu.
David Newhall
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A compelling portrait of a place and time long past that forms the cultural memories of modern Hawaii. There's no nostalgia for racism, poverty, and oppression. Despite the honest look at the past, there's still a warm glow of affections for what makes Hawaii the weird, wonderful cultural stew it is.
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Women, mothers, lovers of literature
Shelves: fiction
Yamanaka is one of the most powerful writers of our time and I was once again impressed with her use of magical realism in historical Hawai'i. Anah, the protagonist sees ghosts, but she is so believable that even the reader understands her visions to be true. Like her other novels, Yamanaka's latest is painful and often an emotional read, but so very, very good.
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Yamanaka achieves a certain brutal softness in this novel. Imaginative and lyrically written. I particularly like how there is no line between the spirit world and the world of man as Yamanaka envisions it in this book. It's all one. Her use of child narrator is a little different than some of her other works, but still a delight to read.
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book. Interestingly written and unpredictable, but also uncomfortable. This book isn't long, but it took me a while to get through it because I both did and did not want to keep reading. I'm glad I finished though. Once you start you should probably read to the end.
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully painful. Not sure I enjoyed it; it's gruesome, graphic and disturbing (especially the part about Anah's births), but does give an insight into Hawaiian culture or history and interesting characters including the ghosts.
Sep 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This would have been a great book to listen to because it is written using pidgin and words from many other languages. It showed how truly diverse Hawaii is. You must prepare yourself for tragedy and abuse throughout the entire book, but the ending is satisfying.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Kinda disjointed at first, and doesn't seem like the typical Yamanaka style. Eventually though, the story gains cohesiveness, and we begin to see the snapshots of poignant moments that weave together to make a beautifully tragic story.
Nov 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
A touching story about 3 sisters who were sent to a Hawaiian orphanage and the ghosts of the 2 younger sisters who die. As with all Yamanaka books, the pidgin sometimes trip up the reading but all in all, a fairly easy read. Note, it will leave you with a heavy heart though.
Melanie Cohen
Apr 25, 2008 rated it liked it
SO dark. SO beautifully written. You gotta know Hawaii. Our poor book club friends who had a hard time keeping up with the pigdeon. And... there was so much I didn't know.
Erin (Brown) Vrugic
Apr 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
The book is a rough start and feeling a bit depressing. Lots of characters to keep track of. I put it down for now and will come back to it again in a few weeks.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Small Japanese Hawaiian girls go to a sanitorium. Couldn�t get into it.
Apr 18, 2013 added it
Shelves: hawai-i
I did not read this. I had it from the library before our trip in 2013. After looking it over, I thought it was not one to make a high priority. It is about sisters, a death, ghosts, TB, guilt...
Mar 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
I loved all of Lois-Ann's books except this one. I was impressed with her ability to capture plantation pidgin, though.
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Impossible to put down.
Jul 23, 2009 added it
This book is dazzling and haunting and elegant and sad.
Jen Lighty
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love all of Yamanaka's books. She gets better and better with every book. This one is stunning.
~ Erin
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: z-2010
Read because of TB connection but didn't hold my interest.
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Lois-Ann Yamanaka is the author of Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, Blu's Hanging, Heads by Harry, Name Me Nobody, Father of the Four Passages, The Heart's Language, and Behold the Many. Her work has received numerous awards including the Hawai'i Award for Literature, the American Book Award, the Children's Choice for Literature, the Pushcart Prize for poetry, ...more
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