The Whangara people, a Maori tribe in New Zealand, is traditionally guided by a man. Nevertheless, this tradition is threatened when Koro's first-born great grandchild, Kahu, is a girl. Koro, leader of the tribe, is crushed by this fact, and repudiates the devoted love of Kahu and refuses to see the signs that shows she is the one.
I watched the film adaptation when it came out in 2002, and I loved it. I even own the soundtrack of the film by Lisa Gerrard, which I listen now and then. After 15 years since the movie came out, I decided to read the book. I had had my doubts beforehand because some reviewers claimed that this was one of those cases where the film was better than the book, but I can honestly say that the book is worth reading. The film is visually and musically spellbinding, but the book provides the necessary background to fully appreciate the myth and legend behind it.
Rawiri, the uncle, is the narrator of the story, to the point that the book seems to be about both Kahu (Paikea in the film) and Rawiri himself. Kahu's dad plays a secondary role in the book, while in the film he is an important character. There is even a chapter about Rawiri in Australia and Papua New Guinea, which was very intesting, but made me wonder why the book had taken that direction and why the story of Kahu had taken a sudden break.
I would say the book is split in three parts. The slow beginning, where we read about Kahu's birth and her grandfather's reluctance to see "the signs". The interesting middle part, where we read about Maori people in Australia and Rawiri in Papua New Guinea. Finally, the passionate last chapters, where Kahu shows why she is "the one".
This is my second book by Witi Ihimaera, and it will not be my last one.
- Paperback: 136 pages
- Publisher: Heinemann (25 July 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0435135082
- ISBN-13: 978-0435135089
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 0.8 x 12.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 99.8 g
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Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
378,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #100766 in Children's Books