skygiants: young Kiha from Legend of the First King's Four Gods in the library with a lit candle (flame of knowledge)
[personal profile] skygiants
Today is a snow day! THIS IS VERY EXCITING and also obviously impetus to write up the most tropical book in my backlog.

I can't remember where it was I saw CĂ©lestine Hitiura Vaite's Breadfruit recommended -- maybe via [community profile] astroprojection? -- but I picked it up on impulse for my trip to the Galapagos and did not regret it.

Breadfruit follows Matarena Mahi, a Tahitian woman with a long-term live-in boyfriend, a couple of kids, a low-paying cleaning job, and a large extended family. In theory, the novel focuses on the fallout of Matarena's boyfriend's drunken proposal one night and Matarena's subsequent case of secret wedding fever. In practice, it's more of a set of linked short stories -- Matarena bounces around and interacts with various members of her family and community, providing the opportunity for the narrator to share Interesting Anecdotes about each of them.

This may seem like a weird comparison, but the structure of the book reminds me more than anything else of Sidney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family books -- like, Breadfruit is obviously not a book for children (anecdotes range from The Time Cousin Y Ruined A Hot Stranger's Fancy Car By Giving Birth In It and The Time Matarena Went To The Gay Bar To Visit Cousin Z's Trans Girlfriend And Ask Her About Wedding DJs to The Time Rich White People Legally Stole Cousin A's Baby And Nobody Could Do Anything About It) but it's got that same feeling of a cluster of tales that come together to form a portrait of a community and a culture that the author knows intimately and wants to share.

Some stories are sad, but the book overall is not depressing; like Matarena herself, it's warm, generous, well-intentioned, and occasionally flashes sharp teeth. Vaite's written two more books about Matarena and her family, and I definitely intend to read them.
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skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
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