SHARK BAIT by Graham Salisbury


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When his normally quiet Hawaiian town fills up with sailors on shore leave, a naive teenager gets caught in a street brawl and sees his own carelessness with a firearm nearly result in tragedy. Mokes's eagerness to watch his hero, big Booley Domingo, make good on his promise to deck a sailor overcomes his promise to his father--the local chief of police--to be home by six. As in his other books, especially Blue Skin of the Sea (1992), Salisbury expertly captures the flavor of island life, from its relaxed pace to its deeply rooted racial divisions. Booley not only instructs Mokes on the code of the streets, he also fills him in on the spirit world, warning him not to take bones away from a certain old burial site. Both Mokes and Booley are bright enough to know the difference between right and wrong, but not always strong enough to act on that knowledge. In the climactic melee, his judgment impaired by beer and weed, Mokes gets beaten up and watches as Booley points the gun at a police officer and takes a bullet in the leg. Mokes's subsequent remorse is eased by his father's reassuring hug, but the damage is done; Salisbury lets readers draw their own conclusions about the wisdom of sacrificing parental trust for the sake of misguided loyalty.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 151pp
Publisher: Delacorte