Nanea: Hula for the Home Front
by Kirby Larson
Great story about WWII and how it affected the people of Hawaii
If you haven’t read Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha, you should read that first, as it covers the first of the war with the attack on Pearl Harbor. If you don’t have access to the first book, this book does include enough information that it can stand on its own, but the background would explain why certain things are going on in this story.
I’m embarrassed to say that before I read this book and its prequel, I never really thought about World War II from the viewpoint of the citizens of Hawaii. ( I always thought in general terms of America as a whole. Nanea is the youngest in a Hawaiian family that is dealing with rationing, displaced friends, a son/brother that wants to join up, with devastation, beaches and parks blocked with wire and junker cars to stop the Japanese from landing, blackouts, curfews, hours spent in tiny bomb shelters waiting out attacks, the arrest of Japanese citizens simply due to their origin, the relocation of Japanese families, and Hawaiians trying to do their part to support the war effort.
Although I thought I knew a decent amount about WWII, rationing, etc., I never realized that people were asked to lend their dogs to the military, students asked raise money, one dime at a time, to pay for tanks, that Hawaii was bombed again after Pearl Harbor, etc. There’s so much history in this book, told in a very engaging and heart-touching way. Events are made personal and real by the way they twine through the lives of Nanea and her family. There’s a glossary of Hawaiian words in the back and a brief synopsis about the time in which Nanea lived. This is a great living history story that will teach while entertaining. Highly recommended.
Everything has changed since the war started. Nanea had hoped that going back to school would make life seem normal again. But it hasn’t. There are still curfews and blackouts and constant reminders of war. Nanea’s dear friend Donna had to leave Hawaii, and Nanea’s big brother won’t stop talking about joining the Army. She can’t bear the thought of him far from home and in danger. In the swirl of changes, Nanea turns to hula. Dancing makes her feel better, and soon she learns how much it lifts the spirits of the soldiers, too. When a surprising hula partner boosts everyone’s morale, Nanea gets a big idea.