LAVA by Pamela Ball

LAVA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Passion, once cooled, undergoes irreversible changes--so runs the theme of Hawaii-born, Florida-based Ball's insightful if somewhat overextended debut. Kinau keeps busy in her greenhouses on the slopes above Hilo, still trying after five years to forget her husband Ivan, who ran off to the mainland with a rich woman he'd rescued from a broken hotel elevator. When the woman's son appears on Kinau's doorstep, however, the past comes rushing back, and when the teenager manages to get himself killed by a shark a day later, the tragedy insures that the past and present will collide. Ivan flies in after hearing the news, and Kinau takes him back, even though it's clear that he has greatly changed. This new Ivan puts a bounty on sharks, so that their bodies pile up in Hilo's streets as fishermen from all over the island go into a killing frenzy; this Ivan refuses to take care of the boy's cremation when his body is eventually recovered, leaving that task to Kinau; this Ivan goes guiltily back and forth between his women, the boy's mother having joined him after he proves reluctant to return to the mainland. Only when he does the unthinkable, bringing the wrath of a nearby volcano down on the islanders, does Kinau finally accept that Ivan is an angry, unstable, unreliable figure. And like her mother before her, who made sure that her men (Kinau's father included) hit the road when she was done with them, she sends Ivan a message in no uncertain terms. A probing tale of a woman scorned, Hawaiian-style, with a rich texturing of emotions, but also with historical (Captain Cook) and quasi-mythical (shark men) elements tacked on that are more affected than effective.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Norton