Mystery novels reveals tension between modernization, culture

Murder, intrigue, romance and myth makes for a thrilling, page-turner novel.

Tom Peek, author of the novel, “Daughters of Fire,” will be doing a book reading on Friday, Oct. 11 in Nicholson Library at 7:30 p.m.

The plot of the book features three Hawaiian women who work together and use their traditional Hawaiian roots to come up against the Western modernization in Hawaii in an attempt to protect their Hawaiian culture and their culturally sacred land.

Peek said that his novel picks up Hawaii’s story where James A. Michener’s “Hawaii” left off.

While Michener’s novel conveys some of the issues Native Hawaiians faced from colonization until statehood—when it was published—it misses some of the greatest changes in the islands since that time.

“Daughters of Fire” portrays the current impact of Hawaii becoming a state in 1959.

Three of the consequences of statehood were expansion of tourism, military and real estate development.

Peek gave the example of Kahoolawe Island off of Maui that was used for the United States Navy’s bombing practice.

This became a problem for the Native Hawaiians because that island is sacred to them.

Expanded tourism and real estate development also became problems during statehood because resorts, buildings and houses were built on what Hawaiian culture considers sacred grounds.

Not only are these subjects a main part of the book, but the novel also portrays insight into the traditional Hawaiian culture, traditions and beliefs as a whole.

The book also reflects an overarching struggle of Hawaii maintaining its traditional culture and practices in a modern day world through one of its main characters, Maile, who is half Hawaiian and half Chinese American, and struggles with her identity between her American and Hawaiian cultural traditions.

The book’s cover pictures Pele who is the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. Culturally, the Hawaiian see Pele as a sacred and creative force.

The three women in the novel “as Native Hawaiians who still honor and practice their culture, respect this revered deity and in that sense are ‘Daughters of Fire’ as is Pele,” Peek said.

“Pele is an important deity in contemporary Hawaiian culture, especially for people on the Big Island, which still has active volcanoes—one of which is erupting right now,” Peek said.

“According to Hawaiian elders and cultural practitioners, Pele is primarily a creative force–not an angry force as Westerners often portray her—who builds islands, though she can destroy things if she feels betrayed or is compelled to protect the islands,” Peek said.

Peek wrote this novel using fictional characters who deal with actual contemporary problems that some of his personal friends have experienced.

“Daughters of Fire” took Peek 10 years to write, and five different Native Hawaiians reviewed what he was writing, so that he could create a novel that reflected the truth of the issues that Native Hawaiians have faced and the struggles they encounter maintaining their culture with the influence of Western modernization.

Peek said that he wrote the novel for the American audience, meaning people who are not from Hawaii, so that the audience can understand the current conflicts and turmoil in Hawaii.

 

Tom Peek, author of the novel, “Daughters of Fire,” will be doing a book reading on Friday, Oct. 11 in Nicholson Library at 7:30 p.m.

The plot of the book features three Hawaiian women who work together and use their traditional Hawaiian roots to come up against the Western modernization in Hawaii in an attempt to protect their Hawaiian culture and their culturally sacred land.

Peek said that his novel picks up Hawaii’s story where James A. Michener’s “Hawaii” left off.

While Michener’s novel conveys some of the issues Native Hawaiians faced from colonization until statehood—when it was published—it misses some of the greatest changes in the islands since that time.

“Daughters of Fire” portrays the current impact of Hawaii becoming a state in 1959.

Three of the consequences of statehood were expansion of tourism, military and real estate development.

Peek gave the example of Kahoolawe Island off of Maui that was used for the United States Navy’s bombing practice.

This became a problem for the Native Hawaiians because that island is sacred to them.

Expanded tourism and real estate development also became problems during statehood because resorts, buildings and houses were built on what Hawaiian culture considers sacred grounds.

Not only are these subjects a main part of the book, but the novel also portrays insight into the traditional Hawaiian culture, traditions and beliefs as a whole.

The book also reflects an overarching struggle of Hawaii maintaining its traditional culture and practices in a modern day world through one of its main characters, Maile, who is half Hawaiian and half Chinese American, and struggles with her identity between her American and Hawaiian cultural traditions.

The book’s cover pictures Pele who is the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. Culturally, the Hawaiian see Pele as a sacred and creative force.

The three women in the novel “as Native Hawaiians who still honor and practice their culture, respect this revered deity and in that sense are ‘Daughters of Fire’ as is Pele,” Peek said.

“Pele is an important deity in contemporary Hawaiian culture, especially for people on the Big Island, which still has active volcanoes—one of which is erupting right now,” Peek said.

“According to Hawaiian elders and cultural practitioners, Pele is primarily a creative force–not an angry force as Westerners often portray her—who builds islands, though she can destroy things if she feels betrayed or is compelled to protect the islands,” Peek said.

Peek wrote this novel using fictional characters who deal with actual contemporary problems that some of his personal friends have experienced.

“Daughters of Fire” took Peek 10 years to write, and five different Native Hawaiians reviewed what he was writing, so that he could create a novel that reflected the truth of the issues that Native Hawaiians have faced and the struggles they encounter maintaining their culture with the influence of Western modernization.

Peek said that he wrote the novel for the American audience, meaning people who are not from Hawaii, so that the audience can understand the current conflicts and turmoil in Hawaii.

Mariah Gonzales / Culture editor

Mariah Gonzales can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of Tom Peek

Tom Peek is a mystery author from Hawaii who will be reading his recently

published book “Daughters of Fire” on Oct. 11 in Nicholson Library at 7:30 p.m. The book features suspense, murder, intrigue and romance.