Novel Heads by Harry Written by Lois-Ann Yamanaka Takes Us into the Lives of People from Hilo, Hawaii

Decent Essays

Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s fictional novel Heads by Harry is a remarkably raw and exciting read that dives the reader into the lives of the working class people of Hilo during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Based on the life of Antoinette “Toni” Yagyuu, a Japanese-American girl who grew up in Hilo, Yamanaka’s novel does an exceptionally well job capturing the lives, personalities, and hardships many of these people faced during this time. She creates a ‘secondary world’ that is reflective of the Hilo in the 70’s and 80’s and brings it to life through the geography and experiences she depicts within the novel (Kneale, 2003). As the daughter of a local taxidermist and school teacher, Toni, the protagonist of the novel, finds herself trying to meet the …show more content…

Unfortunately, her father expected her to go to college and earn a degree like her brother Sheldon and sister Bunny. Toni, unlike her siblings, did poor while she was at UH Manoa and had to move back home to Hilo. Her father Harry was extremely disappointed and no longer had high hopes for her. When she moved back, her sexual encounters with family friends Wyatt and Maverick Santos grew and she became closer with longtime Haole family friend Billy who was six years younger than her. Her relationship with Billy blossomed into mutual feelings for one another; however, Toni refused to take it to the next level due to the fact that Billy was younger than her, a Haole, and was considered as family. As months past, Toni found herself pregnant from either one of the Santos brothers with her family deeply ashamed by her actions. She did not finish college, was not married, and now she was pregnant. When her baby was born, things started to slowly change for Toni. Her baby became the joy of her life and her father’s new found joy and hope that had once died when Toni did not meet his expectations. Toni later became the co-owner of her father’s business and finally felt accepted into her own family and community. Toni’s experiences is indeed also reflective of our highs and lows in life and is something that most, if not all of society can relate to. Although I may not be from Hawaii and may not be accustomed to the local culture, local

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