From the cauldron of controversy that is Hawaiian history emerged Wai-nani, a reflection of the personage of the great chiefess Ka'ahumanu. Like all islanders she was a water baby who found pleasure, sustenance, solace, wisdom, and courage in the grand and vibrant sea. She was born 15 years prior to the landing of Captain Cook in Kealakekua in 1779 and was the favorite wife of Makaha, a fierce warrior modeled after Kamehameha the Great.
Hawaiian women enjoyed sports, were trained in the martial arts, played active roles in decision making, and participated in wars. They communed with the gods through hula and ritualistic ceremonies. Ka'ahumanu swam miles each day, and it is reasonable to believe she would have made friends in the ocean. Wai-nani's bond with Eku, a playful and communicative dolphin, propels her on a mythological journey couched in magical realism. Wai-nani is a celebration of the Hawaiian people of old - especially the powerful Ka'ahumanu, forerunner to the modern woman.
Honorable Mention, 2015 Readers' Favorite Awards, Fiction-Historical-Personage category.
"I was fascinated with the way Linda Ballou had taken us into the intimate and unknown world of the Hawaiian people through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine. Wai-nani is fierce, passionate, and deeply connected to the land and ocean - and to her complex and multi-faceted warrior husband." (Toby Neal, best-selling author of the Lei Crime series)
"Wai-nani is a masterpiece! The historic novel tells the dramatic and heart warming love story of Wai-nani. By weaving the ancient legends of Old Hawaii into this compelling story, Ballou captivates the reader with her beautiful descriptions and very real characters, who come alive in your imagination. Once I got the rhythm I could hardly put the book down. It is an excellent read, especially if you have been or plan to go to Hawaii." (Bonnie Neely, editor of Real Travel Adventures)
"Ballou's artful storytelling pulled me into Wai-nani's dramatic struggle - the universal journey to discover how and why one fits into the beautiful, yet flawed world one lives in. The duality of Wai-nani's relationship with the ocean and a family of dolphins that offers her uncomplicated freedom and expression, and her relationships within a culture where she must struggle physically, emotionally and spiritually against her traditional 'place of standing,' is a magical, inspiring and thought provoking read." (Scott Hillenbrand, feature film director/producer)
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Wonderful story - recommended with ebook
Listening to the audiobook while following along with my Kindle copy, lazing along the shore in Maui.
There are so many! Wai-nani swimming with her dolphin friends to escape her father's wrath and meet the love of her life on another island. Wai-nani eating a 'kapu' banana. Wai-nani coming out of the ocean, naked - and the villagers couldn't believe she swam all those miles to get there from another island, thinking she was a god!
The story is full of so many great moments - I loved every minute of it :-)
Knowing the narrator's other works, I found out she was directed to be more 'dramatic' with her read than she normally would be. The story itself is written very poetic, and sometimes sentences are just flowery language to describe a scene - and two sentences may not follow a particular thought process.
That being said, I always enjoy Ms. Padovan's vocal tones and thought even with the direction given, she did a wonderful job. I would have preferred if she had been allowed to narrate with less drama and let the words speak for themselves though.
The author who is normally a travel writer did a great job researching Hawaiian history and culture, and putting it all together as a fictional story.
- Sasha Bueno
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