Looking to expand your TBR pile? Want to add something that explores cultural nuances of an immigrant family, set in Hawaii, utilizes a dual timeline POV, and deals with a multitude of thematic issues? I’d suggest “The Color of Air” by Gail Tsukiyama, a historical fiction released in 2020 by @harperviabooks.
I just finished halfway through this book in one day! So far, I admire the prose and highly detailed style of the author — sometimes this isn’t the best way to convey things, but I think this style transports the reader to the location, which is especially evocative when utilizing the dual timeline perspective or within historical fiction broadly speaking. One of the things I’m liking about this book so far is the rich cultural education I’m getting about an area I’m not familiar with.
Here’s a spoiler free summary of this book ⤵️
Daniel Abe, a young doctor in Chicago, is finally coming back to Hawai’i. He has his own reason for returning to his childhood home, but it is not to revisit the past, unlike his Uncle Koji. Koji lives with the memories of Daniel’s mother, Mariko, the love of his life, and the scars of a life hard-lived. He can’t wait to see Daniel, who he’s always thought of as a son, but he knows the time has come to tell him the truth about his mother, and his father. But Daniel’s arrival coincides with the awakening of the Mauna Loa volcano, and its dangerous path toward their village stirs both new and long ago passions in their community.
Alternating between past and present—from the day of the volcano eruption in 1935 to decades prior—The Color of Airinterweaves the stories of Daniel, Koji, and Mariko to create a rich, vibrant, bittersweet chorus that celebrates their lifelong bond to one other and to their immigrant community. As Mauna Loa threatens their lives and livelihoods, it also unearths long held secrets simmering below the surface that meld past and present, revealing a path forward for them all.
So far, I’d rate this book around 3.5 stars which is similar to where it stands on Goodreads (3.7 overall). I would suggest it to others, particularly historical fiction / general fiction fans who have patience with detail and enjoy that sort of prose in their books. I think that some of the reviews I’ve seen mention that there is divergence between historically accuracy and some of the details included in this book. I’m not an expert and I don’t know much about what I saw flagged up, but I suppose that I could suggest to anyone who thinks to read this to consider other reviews with more skillful knowledge in this matter.