In this her first collection of short stories, Marie Hara shares both new and previously published works that explore her characters’ complex connections to the past. Spanning nearly 100 years of the experiences of Japanese women in Hawai‘i, these stories introduce a picture bride, a plantation worker, a domestic servant, a hapa-haole girl growing up in post-war Makiki as well as these women’s successful but often troubled middle-class descendants. Hara explores how race, class, sexual politics, and the continuing influence of the colonial past shape the lives and choices of her female protagonists. These stories from the soul of immigrant Hawai‘i, reach out and find the commonality of all people.
"Bananaheart is a heart courageously exposed—the heart of a warm, brave, truthful hapa woman. She invites you into her loneliness, her longing and tenderness and shows you a life that is deeply lived and exquisitely observed."
—Joy Kogawa, Obasan and Itsuka
from Fourth Grade Ukus
The day Joseph learned about ukus, I figured out teachers. Facing him, Mrs. Vincente demanded to know the new boy's name from his own mouth.
"Joseph Kaleialoha Lee."
"You must say 'Joseph Kaleialoha Lee, ma'am.'"
"Hold out your hands, please."
Evidently he had not paid attention, the biggest error of our collective class, one which we heard about incessantly. He had not watched her routine, which included a search for our hidden fingernail dirt. He held his hands palm up. I shuddered. Mrs. Vincente studied Joseph with what we called the "stink eye" but he still didn't catch on. She must have considered his behavior insubordinate, because he did not seem retarded. She reached into the big pocket of her apron and took out a fat wooden ruler. Our silence was audible. She stepped up a little nearer to Joseph almost blocking out all the air and light.