Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Ohana / CW Schutter

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Historical Fiction

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

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Born in Hawaii, CW Schutter now lives in the mountains of Colorado. She’s written two previous novels, Dragon Downs and School of Shadows, the second a nominee in the BigAl’s Books and Pals 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards in the paranormal romance category. Schutter is also a screenwriter with one made movie among her credits.

For more visit her website or blog.


“The Ohana is a riveting retrospective of the social, political, and economic history of Hawaii told through a historical family saga spanning three unforgettable generations. From the young Korean, Han Chaul Roong, who murders the hated Japanese invaders who kidnap his sister and force her into prostitution, to the Japanese aristocrat Kazuko who abandons her life of wealth and privilege to live in poverty with the servant she loves, the Asians came to work the brutal cane fields of Hawaii under Patrick O'Malley, a refugee from the Irish famine who sailed on a coffin ship to the gang-infested streets of Boston and ended up in Hawaii.”


The Ohana (ohana means family in Hawaiian) is just what the description claims, a story of a family entwined with “the social, political, and economic history of Hawaii.” The family has branches originating from varied backgrounds and cultures. The story spans a time that was rife with cultural change and upheaval for all of the US. I suspect this change was more extreme for Hawaii with multiple waves of immigration as well as changes brought about from becoming a territory of the US not long before the tale starts. The story was compelling and the backdrop was just as interesting.

However, I also found myself struggling at times with the dialog of some characters who used convoluted syntax and while I could intuit what they were saying, it also didn’t make for smooth reading, as in this snippet of dialogue.

“’Sorry, brah,” Moki patted his back. “Da Silva don’ believe in letting anyone go for nothing. So he when show you what he can do. He when do that with his left hand. Pretty good, ‘ey?”

I interpreted examples such as these as done on purpose, a non-error. The number of actual grammatical and other proofing issues outside of dialogue was higher than I like to see, but not excessive. Combined, the two made for sometimes rough reading, but not enough to abandon a story I wanted to see through to the end.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of proofing errors.

Rating: *** Three Stars


Anonymous said...

Hi BigAl,
I have not read this book, but the dialogue example is pidgin english. It's spoken by the locals (and was thoroughly discouraged by my parents).


BooksAndPals said...

Thanks for the comment, Stephen. I assumed it was authentic (how a local, especially at during the time this took place) actually talked. I viewed it much the same as as I do accent in dialogue. Some can be good for characterization, but a little bit goes a long way. It doesn't take much before it tends to get in the way of the story, at least for me.