It’s this kind of lovely phrasing that author Waimea Williams uses to bring us into Maile’s story in Aloha, Mozart. The story begins with Maile as a young girl living in one of the outer islands of Kauai, Hawaii with her grandmother. It’s the 1960s, and one of her teachers brings in a record to play to the class. The students don’t know how to react to hearing opera music for the first time. It’s strange to them, but it’s undoubtedly captivating for Maile. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Maile has dreams of becoming an opera singer herself. Her life changes when her father takes her to live in Honolulu with him and her nine other siblings. She’s immediately overwhelmed by the busier environment and her newfound vocal talents. As she becomes an adult, Maile is still intent on following her dreams. First, she is led to Manhattan and then Austria, where she must make a very important decision between what is right and what she has always wanted.
The beginning of the story moves slowly as we get to know Maile and her life in Hawaii. There’s a touch of whimsy to Williams’ writing in this part of the novel. It’s a little hard to get used to the way Maile thinks and speaks. Williams clearly wanted everything about Maile and her culture to feel authentic, and in that regard, she was successful. However, the story truly picks up when Maile moves to Manhattan to really begin pursuing her singing career. There she meets with an instructor, Madame Renska. What I particularly loved was this new backdrop of 60s Manhattan, and Maile’s conversations with Madame. When Maile makes the move to Austria, a different (physically and politically) backdrop and instructor are in place. Williams painted vivid descriptions of post-WWII Austria. In addition, I enjoyed all the new characters and how Maile progressed as a character. Although, I wish the pacing was a little more consistent. Some points in the novel were slow and uninteresting; then, it would pick up and slow down again.
The ending helped the story come full circle which I appreciated, even though I didn’t feel wholly satisfied by it. Regardless, Williams has crafted a rather emotional, interesting and unique story, and that alone was a pleasure to read.
Rating: 6/10 ★★★★★★
Aloha, Mozart is available on November 12, 2012. You can pre-order it at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
- Publisher: Luminis Books (November 12, 2012)
- Length: 280 pages, Paperback
- Series: N/A
- Source: ARC
- Genre: Fiction, YA Crossover, Opera,
- Completed: August 2012