Mike Bond’s fictional work, Saving Paradise certainly holds true to its title. Bond’s deep-seeded love affair with Hawaii is prevalent throughout:
To tourists Hawaii is an air-conditioned tanning booth with shopping, booze, bikinis, and lots of smiling low-paid help. The real Hawaii is something else- the greatest mariners the world has ever known, brave warriors and wise healers, a deep-hearted family connection reaching hundreds of people and across whole islands, love of the ancestors, a magical way of life. (6)
Having been to the Big Island once myself, I long to return and see it as Pono, the ex- U.S. Army Special Forces protagonist in Saving Paradise, views it:
It was another magnificent dawn on Oahu, the sea soft and rumpled and the sun blazing up from the horizon, an offshore breeze scattering plumeria fragrance across the frothy waves Flying fish darting over the crests, dolphins chasing them, a mother whale and calf spouting as they rolled northwards. A morning when you already know the waves will be good and it will be a day to remember. (1)
Pono, a self-described hapa haole, part white and part Hawaiian, has done time in not only Afghanistan, but also the Inside as he refers to prison. Attempting to now live the life of a writer and teacher of surfing, he becomes embroiled in a homicide investigation. A likeable character with definitive views regarding politics, “The wrong politicians commit is pretending that they’re not. And while a whore actually gives you something for your money, a politicial just takes your money and screws you in a different way” (10), the reader ends up rooting for his escape from one predicament after another.
From an English teacher’s perspective, though, I had no choice but to highlight grammatical errors such as “1930’s” (73) and “‘farms’.” (47). No apostrophe needed in the first example, and the period should be inside the quotations for the second example. In addition, the protagonist’s switch from a Hawaiian dialect in dialogue to standard English in thought caused confusion when considering these differing sentence structures were originating from the same man. Yet, perhaps this was intentional on Bond’s part considering Pono was of mixed heritage.
If a meeting on the beach in Hawaii is not in the cards for your book club, Tangueray martinis in honor of Pono and half-pound burgers similar to those served at Wipe Out, a downtown bar which Pono frequents, would serve as an adequate substitute.