East Wind, Rain
William Morrow, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
ast Wind, Rain
is a story, gently told, of a little-known chapter in history – the takeover of the tiny Hawaiian island of Niihau by a downed Japanese fighter pilot after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
old by his command that Niihau was a deserted island, the pilot was surprised to find that 130 Hawaiians and Japanese-Americans inhabited it. Owned by the white Robinson family, Niihau was cut off from the mainland, indeed from the rest of the world. The Robinsons believed that the residents of Niihau were safer and happier if they were not exposed to the wonders of the then modern world – or to the diseases that outlanders could bring with them, as happened when Captain Cook visited the Hawaiian Islands.
he pilot capitalizes on their innocence to take over the island until he can destroy his plane so its technology cannot be duplicated by the enemy. He enlists the aid of Yoshio, a Japanese-American, by assuring him that when the Japanese arrive in force, the islanders will be safe because Yoshio gave aid and comfort to him, a Japanese fighter pilot. This is a true occurrence with the known facts available bolstered by fiction. It's a fascinating story of an innocence that triumphs, of betrayal in a time of war, bigotry, and belief in a Christian God with old native deities thrown in for good measure.
r. Robinson's monthly visit by is disrupted by the war. Able to communicate with the mainland only by gas lamps, the villagers must handle the situation themselves. By relying on their own instincts, they manage to prevail.
East Wind, Rain
is a well-written story by an author who pens it as though she herself was an integral part of the scene.
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