5 star Reviews on Amazon
5/25/2014 3:30:51 PM by: CW Schutter

5.0 out of 5 stars A Sprawling, Wonderful Tale, May 25, 2014
Veritas Vincit "Bill" (USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ohana (Kindle Edition)
Ambitious authors don't come around as often as they should, but The Ohana demonstrates the massive talent of Schutter and pulls the reader into a sweeping and unforgettable story of pain, loss, rebirth, justice, love, and ultimately peace. The crafting of the characters that make up this story is slow and brilliant, giving us a glimpse into the lives and souls of accessible and honest characters who have faced real challenges in life. The unlikely meeting in the cane fields of Hawaii initially seems like the scene of some great philosophical debate over race, history, fairness, and human nature, but what we really find is common ground. Shadowy pasts, buried resentments, and painful memories converge into a melting pot of assumptions and potentially violent confrontations, but over the 60-year span of this book, we find that the most important lesson to learn in life is forgiveness. Our most precious ability as people is to evolve and grow, to find new meaning in life and move towards new goals, allowing the past not to be forgotten, but to be accepted.

Powerful is probably the best word that could describe this intricate and impressive novel; I finished it with a sigh, knowing that I will be unlikely to read something as compelling and honest for many months. There were a few moments where the story seemed to wander, and where I lost focus, but by concentrating on what these characters were feeling, the events that had shaped their path, and the obstacles that they had all overcome to focus on a common goal, I once again found the string of beautiful meaning that Schutter was trying to express. If you are fascinated by the concept of history, Hawaii, redemption, and salvation, then this should be the next book on your list. Truly, beautifully done.

5.0 out of 5 stars Ohana: family/community - scars and healing, May 18, 2014
Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ohana (Kindle Edition)
Hawaiian born Carole Whang Schutter prepared for her writing career with a degree in Psychology from the University of Hawaii. But that is only the `paper' that represents her credentials, for as much as studying psychology formally, her interest in the paranormal, living in Honolulu, being an evangelical Christian and motivational speaker, a consuming interest in world religions, a widow, and transplanting to live in Aspen, Colorado have fleshed out her exposure to the point that she is able to reflect on personal experiences and an intimate knowledge of Hawaiian history and as a result she is able to author historically based books (and screenplays) on the influence of the immigrant experience and the miscegenation that has been the 50th states' history as well as the very foundation of the matrix of all of America.

Schutter offers more in her immensely seducing Prologue than many authors achieve in an entire novel. Through a few paragraphs she distills the mystery and the at times agonizing accompaniments that represent a multi-ethnic Asian and American experience from its immigrant beginnings to present day: Mariko Han's secret about the past guards a need for her granddaughter's leukemia, a bone marrow transplant from a compatible donor - a secret that opens windows to an emotionally powerful saga that reveals three generations of Hawaii's multi-ethnic Asian families. That the story is played on the stage set by the Great Depression, WW II, the Vietnam war, the emergence of the Hawaiian mafia and all the changes such events molded the world in which we live. The characters so well drawn by the author represent a family saga spanning mid portion of the 20th century: from the young Korean, Han Chaul Roong, who murders the hated Japanese invaders who kidnap his sister and force her into prostitution, to the Japanese aristocrat Kazuko who abandons her life of wealth and privilege to live in poverty with the servant she loves, the Asians came to work the brutal cane fields of Hawaii under Patrick O'Malley, a refugee from the Irish famine who sailed on a coffin ship to the gang-infested streets of Boston and ended up in Hawaii after the bloody Civil War. The immigrants meet in the sugar cane fields of Kohala, Hawaii where a savage, unthinkable crime and a failed strike draw the three families together in an uneasy alliance. Sean Duffy, Patrick's nephew, climbs out of Boston's slums to the top of Hawaiian society by way of a loveless marriage to the sister of the woman he loves. Kazuko's beautiful daughter Mariko lives as a social outcast in the prostitution houses of Honolulu. Chaul Roong's son, George Han, the ruthless mob boss of the first Korean syndicate, builds an empire while hiding his love for his brother's wife. The colliding worlds of the immigrants and their American-born children and grandchildren come to a head when an entire generation protests the Vietnam war and revolt against traditional values. Now the families must put aside their lifetime prejudices and grudges to save a young girl. who ran from famine in Ireland, a death sentence in Korea, and a repressive caste system in Japan, only to encounter poverty, racism, and ultimately the wars that forever changed Hawaii.

Schutter's power as a novelist is unquestioned. Rarely has a writer so adroitly painted a history of the immigrant experience so deftly. More than just a history of Hawaiian responses to world conditions, this book represents the acting out of the human drama that is mirrored in all countries, but especially the melting pot we know as America. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, May 14

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Paul and Richard Chaul Roong Whang, Kohala, Hawaii plantation, circa 1931


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