Wright doesn't sugar coat the school experiences of the boy narrator. There are excursions off-campus into the drug world, skirmishes between haoles (whites) and locals in a rite of passage known as Killahaole Day, and then there's the tricky matter of interracial dating. Think Holden Caulfield in CATCHER IN THE RYE, only set in Hawaii. And this teenage narrator has a bit more moxie than Holden, especially when he challenges the school bully to a fight on the golf course during the Hawaiian Open.
*Great FIRST KISS descriptions as the school carnival, with lips flavored by sugar from the Portuguese donuts!
*Interesting interracial dating dilemma between Hawaiian narrator and Korean girl.
*Realistic in sense narrator loses fight, but still gains respect.
This book covers over 13 years in the young life of Jeff Gill, our narrator. The setting shifts from the rural east end of Molokai island to the suburbs of Honolulu, just off the slopes of Diamond Head. Jeff is a classic underdog in the mold of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE's Holden Caulfield, and, like Holden, struggles at school. However, Jeff musters the courage to challenge the school bully to a fight on the golf course, which leads to the ultimate conflict with Punahou School's class dean. This book provides a great window into the school attended by President Obama, complete with multiethnic complexities. Jeff is 'hapa haole,' which is a mix of white and Hawaiian blood, and he experiences the tricky matter of interracial dating when he takes a Korean girl to the Prom, much to the chagrin of the girl's mother.