The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama

The sugar cane industry is the mainstay for the economic survival of Hilo, Hawaii. The plantations employ many of the residents who are mostly Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese. It’s 1935 when the Mauna Loa volcano erupts and lava starts moving toward civilization, namely Hilo.

Daniel Abe has returned home to Hilo after practicing medicine in Chicago for 10 years. He reconnects with family and friends including former girlfriend Maile. Koji has always been supportive of Daniel and his mother, Mariko, especially after Daniel’s father disappears. As a young man Koji wanted more of a relationship with Mariko, but she chose Franklin instead. Koji’s love and concern for Mariko never diminishes taking care of her during her fight with cancer.

Time moves back and forth between the early 1900’s and 1930’s. There are secrets uncovered along the way that greatly effect Daniel and his relationship with “Uncle” Koji. I enjoyed the historical aspects of this novel including learning about the backbreaking work on a sugar cane plantation, the attempts to unionize, and the ever present possibility of widespread disaster due to the volcano.


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