Compelling Pacific Islander Stories

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

A collection of books and films encapsulating the rich culture and history of the Pacific Islander experience.

  • Boy


    This poignant coming-of-age story brings the viewer into a small Maori community and a young boy's dream of reuniting with his father, and perhaps catching a Michael Jackson concert together. Director/writer Taika Waititi uses a mostly Maori cast and co-stars. You get a sense of his quirky humor in this early film and see how he has developed into one of the most creative filmmakers today. Also available on Hoopla and Kanopy. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors

    2020 by Washburn, Kawai Strong

    This is the story of what happens to a native Hawaiian family when the parents lose their jobs and their son is saved from drowning by a shark, with the result that he seems to have been imbued with healing abilities. Gritty reality and cultural belief in the power of the supernatural coexist throughout this sad but hopeful novel. It's wonderfully written and like nothing I'd read before! Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Breadfruit

    by Vaite, Celestine

    Follow the life of Materena Mahi, “one of the spunkiest, wisest, lovingest women on the island of Tahiti.” (Publishers Weekly) This is actually a sequel to Vaite’s Frangipani, but I strongly believe it can be read as a standalone. It’s charming, delightful, and unafraid to tackle some of the heavier topics, such as political unfairness. Recommended by Penny.

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  • The Descendants

    2007 by Hemmings, Kaui Hart

    A descendant of royalty and one of the largest landowners in Hawaii, Matthew King struggles to deal with his out-of-control daughters—10-year-old Scottie and 17-year-old Alex—as well as his comatose wife, whom they are about to remove from life support. According to Publishers Weekly, it is a "sharply observed, frequently hilarious, and intermittently heartbreaking look at a well-meaning but confused father trying to hold together his unconventional family." Recommended by Becca.

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  • Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir

    2019 by Madden, T Kira

    Madden's debut memoir about finding redemption in female friends and lovers after growing up in a wealthy but dysfunctional family. "Though the author's aching emotional rawness sometimes makes for difficult reading, this is a deeply courageous work that chronicles one artist's jagged—and surprisingly beautiful—path to wholeness. Affecting, fearless, and unsparingly honest." (Kirkus) Recommended by Becca.

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  • IZ: The Man behind the Music


    Watch this documentary to experience the brilliant musicianship and celebrate the life of the late Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, known as 'The Voice of Hawaii.' Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Diamond Head

    2015 by Wong, Cecily

    A novel about three generations of Sino-Hawaiian women all hurt by poor romantic choices. Booklist describes it as a, ". . . Hawaiian saga of deception and loyalty [that] evocatively captures the tightly controlled worlds of privilege and power." Recommended by Becca.

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  • This Is Paradise: Stories

    2013 by Kahakauwila, Kristiana

    "Kahakauwila’s debut short-story collection offers a stirring glimpse into the daily lives of contemporary Hawaiians torn between native traditions and the pull of mainland lifestyles.” (Publishers Weekly) Recommended by Penny.

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  • Where the Rekohu Bone Sings

    2014 by Makereti, Tina

    "From the Chatham Islands/Rekohu to London, from 1835 to the 21st century, this quietly powerful and compelling novel confronts the complexity of being Moriori, Maori, and Pakeha." Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings is a must-read. Recommended by Penny.

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