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Name Me Nobody

May 10, 2007

Name Me Nobody by Lois Ann Yamanaka is probably my favorite Hawaiiana book.  The reasons why I like it are that Yamanaka manages to capture what it is like to grow up in Hawaii.  Although there is no ethnic majority in Hawaii, it is still far from a utopian melting pot.  Yamanaka effectively translates into writing the sentiments felt by many a teenager growing up in the islands.  She has been harshly criticized before for her stereotyping. However, there is something intangible about her writing that seems to transcend mere stereotypes.  

In recognizing Asian Pacific Heritage Month I don’t want to omit any Pacifc nations so the following are a couple of links on resources on Hawaii and the Pacific that we use at our branch:

Marco Polo by Lena Kanemori of the Hawaii Department of Education: A great resource on Hawaii related topics.  We’ve used this at our library for many a primary school project.

PREL.ORG Pacific Resources for Education and Learning: Another great resource for somewhat hard to find information on Pacific Island nations.  You might need to do a little bit of digging, but the information is in there especially on the Pacific Service Region link

The following is an excerpt from our chat about Name Me Nobody.

Gayle: Name Me Nobody’s a tough one though, because it takes place in Hawaii.  The Hawaii factor seems to skew it a bit,
Jolene: Yes she is. It’s probably the best interpretation of what happens when generations assimilate in an island state.
Gayle: Her being Asian is no big deal except for the fact that she doesn’t like being associated with the preppy Japanese kids.
Trisha: Because race is mentioned, but race is not the point of the story.
Gayle: It’s not. I do think Yamanaka effectively captures what it’s like to grow up in Hawaii. There are definite cultural overtones throughout the book.
Trisha: Which I’d love to see in more stories about Asian-Americans.  I’m sick of books with characters who are ashamed of their heritage or discriminated againts. Not necessarily the set in Hawaii part, but the race-as-not-a-big-deal thing.
Gayle: Yes, that’d be great.

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