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Island Song by Alan Chin

Island Song

by Alan Chin

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When I first read the blurb of this book I thought, well another story setting in Hawaii, probably I will find beautiful sands, beautiful beaches, a easy-to-go way of life, a bit of mythology, surf, hula... what else am I missing from the typical Hawaiian postcard? And yes, in Island Song there is all of that but also something more, I really was not expecting to be so moved by the story, and I really was not expecting how easy was to read this book, , the book makes itself read, and you lost the count of the pages to emerge again from the story when it's almost finished and wonder what happens to the last 250 pages? I haven't realized to read so much.

Garrett is the typical mainlander who is searching solace in the loneliness of the island. At first I believed that Garrett was forced to leave his previous life, and instead his story his even more typical, Garrett had all money could buy if not love. Garrett's first lover and only love, Marc, died, and nothing bonded Garrett to the city where they lived, San Francisco. Garrett loves his routine, the Castro district, the Golden Gate Park, the Victorian houses, but every corner of that city is an image of Marc, of how much happy they were together, and Garrett had to run from it. Garrett arrives in Hawaii with the idea of writing a romance book, the love story between him and Marc, and maybe writing it, it will also bury it. When the reader starts to 'write' along with Garrett that love story, it seems almost a sweet romance, two young men who meet and fall in love with the easiness of youth. All right, they faced some trouble, they had to move and they lost the support of their family, but they were together. For sure a love like that was broken only by an unmerciful illness, something that nor Garrett or Marc could defeat. For sure there is no blame nor on Garrett or Marc side, and proof is that now Garrett is inconsolable.

But the island is there to help, and help arrives in the form of Songoree, a very young boy. Garrett rents a little villa from Songoree's grandfather, and the boy is hired as 'housekeeping': he will cook and tend the house, and he will look after Garrett. At first Garrett is not so happy to have Songoree around, the boy is too beautiful, and Garrett after all is a man, not so young like him, but still not 'dead'. I really was wondering on Garrett's behavior, if his love story with Marc was so beautiful, how can he be so ready to be tempted by Songoree, even if the boy is beautiful? And then Garrett is 'allowing' himself six months to write this book, bury his lost lover once for all, and then come back to his life in San Francisco... there is something that didn't ring right to me, was I sure that Garrett and Marc's relationship was so special after all? And while the reader again discovers another true through Garrett's memories on the paper, Garrett and Songoree's present relationship doesn't evolve as I was expecting: there is no sudden love, no unresistible passion neither of them can control, they almost settle down in a domestic peace. Where is the passion, where is the uncontrollable force of the natural elements that usually in this setting are reflected in a passionate love story between the two main characters?

And then, when almost the reader is used to the story to have this peaceful pace, the drama arrives both in the past then in the present relationship: through Garrett's memories the reader finally knows what happened to Marc, and it's something that I wasn't expected, not in that tragic way, and not with that resolution. I feel almost like Garrett while writing his past love story was also re-playing it in the present: the meeting of two men apparently not fated to be lover, the blossom of a love which held a lot of promises for the future, the tragedy that struck not once but twice, and then the healing power of love... the only thing that can be change, if the two present lovers want, is the ending.

There is another surprise, for me really positive, in the story: from the blurb, and from past experience with similar stories, I was expecting from it to be a lot more 'detached', a mystical story at the edge between mythology and paranormal, and instead the story is quite 'normal', with only some events that you can also justify as driven by strong emotions... there is not anything really 'out of ordinary'. This book is a very nice romance, probably the romance Garrett was trying to write, what Marc wanted him to write, a book that proves that a story between two men can be a love story. It's not overly erotic, actually probably there aren't really sex scenes, but truth be told, for me doesn't matter.

  elisa.rolle | Mar 25, 2009 |
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Dreamspinner Press

2 editions of this book were published by Dreamspinner Press.

Editions: 1615817050, 1615817042

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