Sue Cowing's Reviews > One Boy, No Water

One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker
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it was amazing
bookshelves: hawaii-fiction

I’ve often thought that Hawaii would be a perfect setting for a fantasy novel, but also that such a novel would require skillful handling. It would have to be written by someone so familiar with island life and ways that they couldn’t exoticize the place. The writer would also need to be comfortable enough with the legends and beliefs already here that he or she could boldly use or depart from them without offending. I believe Lehua Parker is such a writer. In One Boy, No Water, she has created an engaging, believable work of magical realism.
Who is Zader, this boy who was found on the reef as a newborn, but is so allergic to water that he blisters painfully from a few drops and must wash himself in coconut oil? What does the strange birthmark on his back mean? What is his connection to sharks? And what does his Uncle Kahana know about all this that he isn’t telling? The central mystery of the book is not solved but deepens in delicious suspense as the story unfolds.
The characters and their interactions ring true to everyday experience in the islands. Parker captures the high-stakes peer conflicts –the enemies, the alliances--that are seldom appreciated by adults but an inevitable challenge of growing up here, and she shows us the humor in them too. Uncle Kahana, with his one foot in the spirit world, and the other definitely down to earth, is wonderfully drawn. In a funny/serious moment when he first gathers Zader and his friends to give them instruction in Lua, he gives them a secret password and tells them that he requires only two things of them that day. The first is that they are not to speak of this training to anyone because it is sacred. They all repeat the password, pono. “The second thing?” Zader asks. Uncle replies: “Put all the furniture back where it belongs.” Pitch perfect.
I wish the author had left off the long epilog about Zader and Jay’s school admissions files entirely. For me the book ends on page 248.
That said, One Boy, No Water is original, magic, true, funny, and hard to put down. Can “Aunty Lehua” keep this up? I certainly hope so, because I’m already eager for Book Two.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
July 31, 2012 – Shelved
August 3, 2012 – Shelved as: hawaii-fiction

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message 1: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Masters When I get time to read again (next month, hopefully) I'll try to find this one.


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