What does it mean to be Chinese American? How are we reflected in the people we love, and us in them? What obligation do we have to those who share our blood, and how does a woman claim her life as her own? In vivid and evocative flashes of prose, Darien Hsu Gee dissects her beliefs and navigates the complexity of family dynamics in search of her identity.
“Arresting … this poignant, poetic memoir will draw readers in.” —BookLife (Editor’s Pick)
“Taut and lyrical.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Gee is a marvelously direct writer of powerful autobiographical vignettes, each one telling in its quiet ferocity for personal revelation, each a momentary, lyric ascent above everyday confusion.” —Garrett Hongo, author of Coral Road: Poems
2021 IPPY Award Winner (Bronze, Essays) – Independent Book Publisher Awards
Darien Hsu Gee is the author of five novels published by Penguin Random House that have been translated into 11 languages. She won the 2019 Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship award for Other Small Histories and the 2015 Hawai‘i Book Publishers’ Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award of Excellence for Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir. She is the recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation grant and a Vermont Studio Center fellowship. Gee holds a B.A. from Rice University and an M.F.A. from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She lives with her family on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.
A Hawaiian girl began without a Hawaiian name, when being Native Hawaiian wasn’t cool. When a high school classmate gave Sally-Jo Bowman a Hawaiian name in 1956, she ignored it because it wasn’t “official” and she focused on becoming a journalist. Yet, over many years, “Keala-o-Ānuenue,” The Path of The Rainbow, crept subliminally into what she chose to write about and how she wrote. Eventually that pathway surfaced and became front and center in her heart and mind.
Sally-Jo Keala-o-Ānuenue Bowman grew up in Kailua, O‘ahu, born in 1940 to a half-Hawaiian father and a Swedish mother from North Dakota. Her memoir pieces have appeared in various magazines and literary journals, and she is the author of The Heart of Being Hawaiian and co-author of No Footprints in The Sand.
The road out of Kapoho was long and seemingly endless.
Who knew a “kindergarten dropout” could make it so far? Restless and headstrong, Frances Kakugawa was raised amid the anti-Japanese fervor of wartime Hawai‘i. Back then, she longed to leave her hardscrabble hometown in the shadow of Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, with its kerosene lamps and outhouses stocked with Sears catalogs for toilet paper. As a child, Kakugawa pretended she was the long-lost daughter of the emperor who would reclaim her and restore her to her royal life—perhaps tomorrow, or maybe the next day. The imperial carriage never arrived, but Kakugawa did follow the path of her dreams, building a career as a teacher, an acclaimed poet and a nationally recognized authority on family caregiving and education.
Born and raised in the village of Kapoho on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, Frances H. Kakugawa is an internationally published author of sixteen books, who has received numerous awards from literary and family caregiving organizations—among them, the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association, Northern California Publishers & Authors, Mom’s Choice Awards, Sunrise Ministry Foundation, California Writers Club and Hawai‘i Pacific Gerontological Society. She has also been recognized by the Hawai‘i Japanese Women’s Society Foundation as one of the Outstanding Women of the 20th Century in Hawai‘i. Frances has taught at schools in Michigan, Micronesia and Hawai‘i, where she was a curriculum writer, teacher trainer and lecturer in the College of Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She is a columnist for the Hawai‘i Herald—the “Dear Frances” advice column for caregivers—and gives lectures, workshops and readings to schools and community groups nationwide on the subjects of caregiving, teaching, writing and poetry. She also facilitates a writing support group for caregivers in Sacramento, California, where she lives.