‘EWA WHICH WAY is a coming-of-age novel set in the early 1980s, around the time of Hurricane ‘Iwa. The DeSilva family, in economic straits, has suffered the setback of having to move from town to ‘Ewa Beach, and the dissonance between parents impacts the lives of their young sons, Landon and Luke. In addition to humorous moments depicting growing up local, Portuguese, and Catholic, there are serious under-lying themes regarding religion, ethnic tensions, assimilation issues, domestic violence, and the reality that children sometimes need to find their own way in the world at a very young age. With problems in the home and at school, the two brothers are forced to find ways to survive. The economic, ethnic, and family violence issues dominating their lives make for provocative reading relevant to similar contemporary issues of today.
This publication was made possible with support from the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts (MOCA) and the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA), through appropriations from the Hawai‘i State Legislature (and by the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA]).
Tyler Miranda is an emerging writer with over a dozen publications in local literary journals. In 2009, he was awarded BAMBOO RIDGE’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best Prose. In 2011, an excerpt from his novel was antholo- gized in a textbook produced by Pearson Publishing (New York). Miranda was raised on the under-developed west side of O‘ahu, where his stories are often set. His experiences growing up in Hawai‘i in a local Portuguese family have strongly influenced his writing, particularly with his Caucasian looks making him a minority in his childhood community. ‘EWA WHICH WAY is his first novel.
When I was small, we all sat in the crying room at church. Our Lady of Perpetual Help was the only Catholic Church for miles. Every Sunday after moving back to Ewa Beach, we’d be in that soundproofed room behind the last row of pews: Mom, Dad, me, my little brother Luke, and the other families with small children. In the crying room, people could be as noisy as necessary. Babies screamed. Parents scolded. Everybody made noise. Well, everybody except me and Luke.
Mom used to let me and Luke play with our Star Wars toys at church. But if we got too loud, she’d pssst-pssst us, like how our neighbors on Pupu Street, the Peraltas, called their children. When we looked, she had the handle of a thick, wooden spoon inching out of her purse like a lightsaber ignit- ing. If we didn’t knock it off, and quick, we got a spoon-end stinger on the back of our hands. After a couple of times, both Luke and I chose more, uh, appropriately.
Sixth-grader Landon DeSilva has a lot to worry about. His parents’ marriage is falling apart and they’re physically abusing both him and his younger brother, eight-year-old Luke. Landon tries to shield him from the violence. But it isn’t easy. Luke’s always doing just what he shouldn’t, thereby bringing the wrath of his parents down on his shoulders. Landon worries that Luke is “mental” and may already be lost.?He is torn between wanting to help his brother and to somehow “fly away” from his own life in ‘Ewa Beach. Landon wants out. He gets out momentarily by losing himself in his onerous chores, in surfing with his friend, and in drinking his father’s Jack Daniel’s (“This was the part I liked most about Jack Daniel’s: floating weightless and warm.”).
At the heart of ‘EWA WHICH WAY is Landon’s relationship with Luke. “You and me, Luke, we bruddas. We gotta stick together.” In a twist at the end of the book, it is Landon, who, after one last incredible attempt to fly away, learns an important and surprising lesson from his “idiot” brother. Tyler Miranda has written a lovely, ultimately up-beat novel that has the gritty feel of small kid time, of life as it’s lived day by day in what Landon calls “a dying family.”
—Roger Whitlock, Honolulu painter and former professor of English
If mischief and mayhem are not Landon and Luke DeSilva’s middle names, they probably should be. These engaging siblings are at constant war with themselves, with each other, and with the ‘Ewa Beach community that treats them as undesirable outsiders. And with the dysfunctional parents who neglect and abuse them. Through it all, they gradually learn to respect themselves and each other. If the immediate future seems only slightly less bleak than the dark past, mutual support offers hope for the long term.
—James Harstad, retired University Lab School English teacher
and ‘Ewa Beach ogo picker
‘EWA WHICH WAY is an important addition to “the other side of Hawai‘i” fiction that has flourished over the past twenty years, joining the compelling novels, short stories, and non-fiction of Lois-Ann Yamanaka, R. Zamora Linmark, Chris McKinney, Mark Panek, Alexei Melnick, Lisa Linn Kanae, Lee Cataluna, and many others. But Tyler Miranda has given us a an intimate, painful yet riveting portrait of a family in crisis, and a moving account of the lengths that Landon, the older boy and our guide into this world, will go to protect his troubled brother Luke and himself. Though cruelty and neglect are everywhere, there are no villains here, and Landon’s desperate, often futile attempts to save everyone would be tragic if the novel’s conclusion wasn’t so brave and affirming. ‘EWA WHICH WAY is an honest, carefully crafted, powerful, and unforgettable novel of Hawai‘i today.
—Craig Howes, co-producer of ALOHA SHORTS
Miranda’s narrator is that child you know, the quiet one you’ve worried about, the boy with eyes that have seen too many sad things. Miranda takes the reader into the world of that wise-eyed child, and it is a place of fierce love, broken dreams, and beautiful imagery. This is an uncommon story about common people.
—Lee Cataluna, author of FOLKS YOU MEET IN LONGS and THREE YEARS ON DOREEN'S SOFA
‘EWA WHICH WAY brought back all of my memories—both good and bad— of growing up in Hawai‘i. The voices in Tyler Miranda’s story are brutally honest. His writing does not apologize for being real. I was completely engaged and rooted for these two unlikely heroes until the very last page.
—Wendie Burbridge, writer of the “Five-O Redux” for the HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER’s THE PULSE
This novel centers around the idea that children hear and see the world as children do, and that adults are often so wrapped up in their own needs and feelings that they have no way to understand what their children need. Landon, the central character in the book, is dealing with a new, almost alien, neighborhood, with a mother who is wrapped up in her own past mistakes and mishaps and a father who has no sympathy for any of it: his wife, his sons, even himself. All he wants is to be out of it all. This is a story about Hawai‘i and a story about all of us, no matter where we grew up.
—LaRene Despain, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.