Book Review: Hula by Lisa Shea

Amazon.com: Hula: A Novel (9780393321302): Shea, Lisa: Books

Title: Hula

Author: Lisa Shea

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 160

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes


TW: Animal Cruelty, Domestic Abuse, Sexual Abuse

Okay, this is an odd, disturbing little book. It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of uncomfortable books lately and maybe I should take a break in favor of something… lighter? Hula gives a private glimpse into the insulated inner lives of two unnamed sisters. These girls are troubled with a capital T- their dad is deranged and abusive, the older sister constantly bullies the younger one, and both of them engage in premature sexual experimentation.

Even though this book is set in the ’60’s, there’s an odd timelessness to the way it tells it’s story. The writing is simple (narrated by the younger sister) but it’s filled with vivid imagery of both the beautiful and macabre variety. A large part of the book focuses on how two girls with no parenting to speak of perceive sexuality and their changing bodies.

The violence of animals in heat and the seemingly feral boys next door play a larger role than the girls’ own parents, and there’s a kind of uncanny horror to their everyday lives. This book was more about creating a mood than plot or character development, but I thought it was very good at what it did.

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