Winner of the Hawaiʻi Book Publishers Association Ka Palapala Poʻokela Honorable Mention Award for Excellence in Literature.
The koa canoe is one of the most important symbols in Hawaiian culture today, a link between Hawaiʻi’s simpler past and its sophisticated present. Ian MacMillan takes us over to Molokaʻi where a crew of misfit paddlers—women who are dealing with alcoholism, divorce, depression, and more—find an old koa canoe stored in a rundown shed. In a powerful and gripping story centered around the canoe, MacMillan puts us in the boat with the crew. First, we train, and then we paddle in the world championship of outrigger canoe racing, the Molokaʻi to Oʻahu race. A symbol of life, the koa canoe changes each woman, helping her to refocus her life. As they cross Ka Iwi Channel, they leave their misfit status behind in the wake of the canoe. In the midst of his story, MacMillan thoroughly documents the sport of outrigger canoe paddling as only an insider could. He’s been there and done that and we ride with him through one of the best accounts of paddling the channel in Hawaiian literature. The Seven Orchids entertains and educates us at the same time. You couldn’t ask for more.
—John Clark, author of six books on Hawaiʻi’s beaches
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