Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii, written by Bodie Thoene and published by Summerside Press (2010) is an exciting, adventurous read with a surprise ending. Geared for high school and adult readers, it will capture your imagination. You’ll be swept up on a tropical shore full of beauty, intrigue, romance and suspense.
The story begins with the main character, Sandi Smith traveling from California to Lahaina, Maui, to work on her masters in American History. She is part of a project interviewing eyewitnesses to history. Her husband has been missing in action in Vietnam for four years.
The passenger next to Sandi on the plane hears her story and recommends she speak to Auntie Hannah, “The oldest woman in Hawaii.” Sandi has already contacted this woman about interviewing her.
Auntie Hannah, in her nineties, is sharp as a tack. In a British-tinged accent she begins her story. Born in the Islands, she was educated in British schools and she was eight years in Europe in the company of the Crown Princess Kaiulani. She returned to Hawaii in her twenties. At this point in the novel, Thoene goes back and forth between the story of Princess Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn’s life with her family and her friend Hannah, and Sandi’s stay in Hawaii.
In 1889, the Princess leaves Hawaii. Her Scottish father wants her to be educated in Europe. Her older sister, Annie, goes along as does the Princess’s close friend, Hannah.
The friends travel to San Francisco as passengers on a cargo ship. The girls who are about eighteen meet a young man, Andrew Adams, who is also about the same age. He is traveling home to Scotland with his father. During the course of their sailing, the girls play tricks on Andrew, changing their identities. Hannah pretends to be Kaiulani and Kaiulani pretends to be Hannah.
He finds out near the end of the sailing about the trick and seems content to end the friendship. Kaiulani’s father warns her, “William Adams is a well-known and respected publisher and journalist. It may be fun to fool a newspaperman’s son, but don’t make a habit of it. They have devious ways of striking back.”
Later, in England, Andrew meets with the girls and spends some time with them. Kaiulani discovers she is beginning to have some feelings for Andrew.
Meanwhile, Sandi meets often with Auntie Hannah who takes her to some of the historical sights in town where she meets young Archie Kalakaua, a volunteer. In the coming weeks, a mutual attraction builds between Sandi and Archie. About three quarters into the book, Sandi learns that her husband has indeed passed away. Although sorrowful, much of her grieving has been completed and she is willing to consider a relationship with Archie, but nothing becomes definite in this story.
Kaiulani’s schooling continues and she soon discovers that she may never become Queen because the US is planning to take over her country. This is quite distressing to her. While in England, she, her sister, best friend, and Andrew, go to hear a well-known evangelist. They all become Christians. This helps them to cope with the coming changes they will soon face.
When the current Queen Liliuokalani is overthrown by the American, Lorrin Thurston and his troops, Kaiulani knows it is time for her to return home despite dangers she might face.
I loved the sacrifice exemplified in this story. Sandi accepted her husband’s death, bravely going on to do important research. Hannah sacrificed her identity for her best friend. She also placed her Lord Jesus first. There are so many interesting historical facts in this novel. I guarantee you will have trouble putting it down.
Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”