Island Boyz

by Graham Salisbury

One poem and ten short stories set in Hawaii feature boys doing nothing more nor... read more

One poem and ten short stories set in Hawaii feature boys doing nothing more nor less than living their lives. In doing so, they are nonetheless tackling questions both small and large. From the humorous misattempt of a young teen to outwit a teasing bully in “Frankie Diamond Is Robbing Us Blind,” to the very real adolescent cruelty of “The Doi Store Monkey” and “Mrs. Noonan,” to the edginess of “Forty Bucks” and “The Hurricane,” in which anything might happen, Salisbury’s characters are wonderfully unpolished in the way that kids and life are unpolished, full of uncertainties. They are of Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino and European descent. One even hails from Texas, a young man stationed at Pearl Harbor who connects with two young Hawaiians over a horse in “Waiting for the War,” personalizing World War II for the two boys in a way it hadn’t been before. The Vietnam War has a very personal, and devastating, effect on one member of a family in “Hat of Clouds,” in which the oldest son loses his leg and his interest in life in a story told from his younger brother’s perspective. While these stories focus on boys, strong, memorable girls make an appearance in several of them, among them “The Ravine,” “Frankie Diamond,” and, most notably, “Angel-Baby.” The authenticity of these teen voices will resonate with readers of this fine collection. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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