“Stunning…an intricately built novel that spans decades, moving in and out of a collective voice, while also telling Hi’i’s deeply personal and devastating story of trying to find her way.” –Los Angeles Times
“A full-throated chant for Hawai'i. Part coming-of-age story, part historical family epic, all love. . . . It’s impossible to come away unchanged.” —KAWAI STRONG WASHBURN, author of the PEN/Hemingway award-winning Sharks in the Times of Saviors
Set in Hilo, Hawai’i, a sweeping saga of tradition, culture, family, history, and connection that unfolds through the lives of three generations of women—a tale of mothers and daughters, dance and destiny.
“There’s no running away on an island. Soon enough, you end up where you started.”
Hi'i is proud to be a Naupaka, a family renowned for its contributions to hula and her hometown of Hilo, Hawaii, but there’s a lot she doesn’t understand. She’s never met her legendary grandmother and her mother has never revealed the identity of her father. Worse, unspoken divides within her tight-knit community have started to grow, creating fractures whose origins are somehow entangled with her own family history.
In hula, Hi'i sees a chance to live up to her name and solidify her place within her family legacy. But in order to win the next Miss Aloha Hula competition, she will have to turn her back on everything she had ever been taught, and maybe even lose the very thing she was fighting for.
Told in part in the collective voice of a community fighting for its survival Hula is a spellbinding debut that offers a rare glimpse into a forgotten kingdom that still exists in the heart of its people.
About the Author
Jasmin Iolani Hakes was born and raised in Hilo, Hawai'i. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee. She is the recipient of the Best Fiction award from the Southern California Writers Conference, a Squaw Valley LoJo Foundation Scholarship, a Writing by Writers Emerging Voices fellowship, and a Hedgebrook residency. Dance has always been central to Jasmin's life and creativity. She took her first hula class when she was four years old and danced for the esteemed Halau o Kekuhi and the Tahitian troupe Hei Tiare. She worked throughout college as a professional luau dancer. She lives in California.
“Stunning…an intricately built novel that spans decades, moving in and out of a collective voice, while also telling Hi’i’s deeply personal and devastating story of trying to find her way…[A]lthough the book never gives full access to the sacred knowledge of any individual dance, it’s hard not to feel each beat—a yearning for and a deep knowledge and love of both this practice and this place—somewhere deep in your belly by the end.” — Los Angeles Times
"[An] ambitious and poignant debut…Hakes illuminates on every page.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A proud, vibrant coming of age tale."
— ELLE, The 39 Best New Books to Read on Summer 2023
"[An] immersive and astute debut…a deeply affecting story of mothers and daughters and what makes a family."
— Booklist (starred review)
"This debut novel moves with graceful power and sings with a voice as spellbinding as the rolling surf."
— Oprah Daily
"Lush descriptions of the natural environment and warm depictions of family events enrich the novel."
— Kirkus Reviews
HULA is an ode to family, home, and culture for fans of Brit Bennett and Tommy Orange. — Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)
“A full-throated chant for Hawai'i. Part coming-of-age story, part historical family epic, all love. The pages fly by amidst fluid, furious language and captivating drama. This book breathes new life into island narratives...it's impossible to come away unchanged.” — Kawai Strong Washburn, author of the PEN/Hemingway award-winning Sharks in the Times of Saviors.
“Hula is an unforgettable ode to Hawaii, its people, and the power and pain of its history. Through one family and its fearless women, Jasmin ‘Iolani Hakes offers a profound examination of what it means to defy and to belong.” — Qian Julie Wang, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Country
“Majestic, powerful, mysterious, and captivating as Hawaiian mountains, Hula is a magnificent achievement, a courageous act of resistance against colonization, an epic love song for native Hawaiian people. I cannot wait for readers everywhere to celebrate Jasmin Iolani Hakes’ talent.” — Nguyen Phan Que Mai, internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing and Dust Child
“Hula immerses readers in a place they won’t find on any map sold to tourists, Hawaii for Hawaiians. Ferociously beautiful and beautifully ferocious, Hula is a novel soaked in the spirit of Haunani-Kay Trask.” — Myriam Gurba, award-wining author of Mean and Dahlia Season
“Raw, real and richly layered, Hula is a love letter to Hawai’i, most especially Keaukaha. The words in this novel hit like a hurricane––powerful and intense and imbued with every nuance of island life, from hanabata days to the final paddle out. Brilliantly written and expertly structured, the story of the Naupaka women, and the bitter struggles of the native Hawaiian people, will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Jasmin ‘Iolani Hakes has penned a new classic in Hawaiian literature. I could not put this book down. Maika?i” — Sara Ackerman, bestselling author of Radar Girls and Red Sky Over Hawaii.