I love this book pretty fiercely.
I’m writing this review after reading it for a second time, a year after my first read. As so often happens, I saw the film first and that was so beautiful I got the book the next day. When movies inspire me to read the book and the book lives up to the film, I’m always pleased. I love that the book is written in first person. I love that we see everything through Matt’s eyes. He’s not the world’s most admirable character, but he’s real. He’s flawed, but so is everyone else in the story, and that’s what makes me care about all of them.
This book reminds me of the movie Lost in Translation. There’s a lot about it that’s understated. As a narrator, Matt is sort of remote, but the readers can tell he’s trying awfully hard to learn how not to be so distant – as a father, a husband, a cousin, a curator of the land legacy his family holds. Hawaii is a beautiful backdrop to the story, but it becomes incidental setting. That’s not easy for a writer to do when there’s so much that’s so beautiful all around. The highlight of the book, though, is the pain and cost of human existence and the way different people deal with that reality. That demands the reader’s focus, as it should.
I have a feeling I could read this over and over and it would still get me right in the gut every time. Read the book and see the movie, they’re both well worth your time.