Memoir of 1950s-1960s Honolulu by Chinese American author Loreen Lilyn Lee. Grand Prize Winner, Willow Books Literature Awards.
"Lyrical, gorgeous, a masterpiece of the place that is Hawai'i. And painful, insightful, the memoir of a Chinese American girl growing up in a rigidly patriarchal, deeply sexist society. Lee brings her compassionate eye not only to her childhood but to an intimate account of her womanhood both shadowed and enriched by her heritage. The Lava Never Sleeps: A Honolulu Memoir will take its place as an important addition to the shelf on American experience."
--Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
In The Lava Never Sleeps: A Honolulu Memoir, Loreen Lilyn Lee poignantly details her struggle growing up in a traditional Chinese family in Honolulu, Hawai'i during the 1950s and 1960s, enduring both emotional and physical abuse. She'll spend years trying to outrun her demons. Lee gives readers a glimpse into a time and place of transitions, and what ensues is a compelling story of revelation and acceptance, rich in culture and history. By finding the courage to tell her story, Lee has reclaimed her identity and the love for her Chinese and Hawaiian roots.
--Gail Tsukiyama, author of Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden
Lee gives us an insider's view of a Chinese American girl growing up in 1950s--1960s Hawai'i. Born in Honolulu to Chinese parents, Lee writes of being raised in a male-dominated household where she and her sisters take a back seat to their brothers, where father controls the family's money and power, and where paternal control results in secrecy and emotional abuse of mother as well as children. Secrets are kept; and one of these is sexual abuse, its story threaded sensitively throughout the book. All the while, Lee dots the pages with Hawaii's geologic history, lush and volatile. She tells us how Hawai'i's land and history informed, and defined, the way she lives and experiences life. If you want to write a memoir, read Lee's book. She shows us the way.
--Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D., author of Dear Alzheimer's
Quiet, understated, and effective, Lee's memoir exerts a calm but insistent pull on the reader. It clasps the reader's hand with a gentle invitation to follow her as she examines her life, telling what had been left untold for so long. As she reconstructs her Hawaiian childhood and reflects on her adult years, she considers the effect of her Chinese family's patriarchal and misogynistic traditions on both. The straightforwardness of the narrative belies the turmoil beneath the surface, her story like lava that flows gracefully while bubbling with heat. Her musings on what might have been, her reflections and analysis of her choices or lack of them, her awakening to her own needs and strength, and her appreciation of the full richness of her Chinese, American, and Hawaiian heritage make a rewarding read.
--Donna Miscolta, author of Hola and Goodbye: Una Familia in Stories
Loreen Lilyn Lee is a Chinese American writer born in Honolulu, T.H. (Territory of Hawai'i). Issues of identity intrigue her, and her fiction and nonfiction often reflect multiple cultures and cultural intersections. She has received fellowships from Hedgebrook and the Jack Straw Writers Program. She lives in Seattle, Washington, where she also tutors English and writing.