BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn [in Library Journal]

Hardworking Malia and Augie have plenty of love but can’t ever quite get ahead. In hopes of providing better opportunities for their three children, the pair relocate from Hawai’i to Oahu, but not before Augie insists the family share an adventure on a glassbottom boat cruise. Seven-year-old Nainoa falls overboard but is miraculously returned to desperate Malia – by sharks. A legend is born and the family forever changed, as Nainoa’s resurrection gives him the ability to heal.

As the children mature, through sheer will Malia and Augie send each to the mainland: Oldest Dean leaves on a basketball scholarship to Spokane, Nainoa to Stanford (finishing in three years), then to Portland, OR, as an EMT, Kaui to San Diego for adventures and an engineering degree. Tragedy briefly reunites the family, but the survivors must somehow become their own saviors.

Four affecting narrators voice the fivesome: G.K. Bowes is a lyrically nuanced Malia; Tui Asau is both impatiently gruff Dean and increasingly uncertain Augie; Kaleo Griffith is lost and searching Nainoa; Jolene Kim is no-limits, risk-seeking Kaui. Debut author Kawai Strong Washburn’s family saga begets a deserving quartet performance.

Review: “Media,” Library Journal, November 1, 2020

Readers: Adult

Published: 2020

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