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The Lion in the Lei Shop

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Marty Langsmith is only five years old when a strange thunder rolls across the Hawaiian sky and life as she knows it explodes into flames. With her mother, April, and hundreds of other women and children, Marty is evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world overshadowed by uncertainty and grief. Feeling abandoned by her deployed Army officer fa Marty Langsmith is only five years old when a strange thunder rolls across the Hawaiian sky and life as she knows it explodes into flames. With her mother, April, and hundreds of other women and children, Marty is evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world overshadowed by uncertainty and grief. Feeling abandoned by her deployed Army officer father in the wake of the attack, Marty is haunted by nightmares of the lion in the lei shop, a creature that’s said to devour happy children. But as the years pass, mother and daughter slowly begin to embrace their new life and make peace with the pain of the past. Spanning the tumultuous war years, The Lion in the Lei Shop deftly recaptures a dramatic chapter of American history. Originally published in 1970 and reissued for a new generation of readers as part of renowned librarian Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries series, this lyrical novel gives a rarely heard voice to the women and children of Pearl Harbor.


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Marty Langsmith is only five years old when a strange thunder rolls across the Hawaiian sky and life as she knows it explodes into flames. With her mother, April, and hundreds of other women and children, Marty is evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world overshadowed by uncertainty and grief. Feeling abandoned by her deployed Army officer fa Marty Langsmith is only five years old when a strange thunder rolls across the Hawaiian sky and life as she knows it explodes into flames. With her mother, April, and hundreds of other women and children, Marty is evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world overshadowed by uncertainty and grief. Feeling abandoned by her deployed Army officer father in the wake of the attack, Marty is haunted by nightmares of the lion in the lei shop, a creature that’s said to devour happy children. But as the years pass, mother and daughter slowly begin to embrace their new life and make peace with the pain of the past. Spanning the tumultuous war years, The Lion in the Lei Shop deftly recaptures a dramatic chapter of American history. Originally published in 1970 and reissued for a new generation of readers as part of renowned librarian Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries series, this lyrical novel gives a rarely heard voice to the women and children of Pearl Harbor.

30 review for The Lion in the Lei Shop

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Unnecessary Lion Author Starbird alternates perspectives between a mother, April and her daughter, Marty, to tell the story of Pearl Harbor and the resulting war. This military family was stationed there when the Harbor was bombed. The mother is in her mid twenties and still in the honeymoon phase of her marriage. Five year old Marty idolizes her Colonel daddy. Both perspectives are dead on. Neither April nor Marty seem like unreliable narrators yet their remembrances are necessarily different. Unnecessary Lion Author Starbird alternates perspectives between a mother, April and her daughter, Marty, to tell the story of Pearl Harbor and the resulting war. This military family was stationed there when the Harbor was bombed. The mother is in her mid twenties and still in the honeymoon phase of her marriage. Five year old Marty idolizes her Colonel daddy. Both perspectives are dead on. Neither April nor Marty seem like unreliable narrators yet their remembrances are necessarily different. What is similar is the trauma they endured. This is characterized by Marty with the metaphor of a menacing lion who suddenly invades the nearby lei shop. This lion likes to stalk and eat little girls especially read headed ones who happen to look just like Marty! Though this is an apt metaphor it’s overused in my opinion and is the weakest part of the book. It wasn’t needed given the moving tales of both these characters. The cutesy aspect detracts from the excellent storyline. It did provide a catchy title though. I like that librarian Nancy Pearl is searching out books from days gone by (“Lion” is from the 70’s) that might have been missed by most readers and is bringing them to our attention. “The Lion in the Leigh Shop” is one of the most straight forward, non tear jerking tales of Pearl Harbor and World War II that I’ve ever read. The book is personal and moving without playing with the reader’s emotions. This review is based on an advance reader’s copy supplied by the publisher. (Disclaimer given per FTC requirement.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Kay Starbird's novel is one of a selection of out-of-print novels selected for reprinting by NPR's Nancy Pearl. I reviewed an advance copy for Bookbrowse First Impressions. What an excellent selection! The story begins with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. April Langsmith and her 5-year-old daughter Marty are living in Oahu military housing with husband/father Lang when the bombing occurs. He is immediately called away by military responsibilities, leaving April and Marty to cope with being shifted a Kay Starbird's novel is one of a selection of out-of-print novels selected for reprinting by NPR's Nancy Pearl. I reviewed an advance copy for Bookbrowse First Impressions. What an excellent selection! The story begins with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. April Langsmith and her 5-year-old daughter Marty are living in Oahu military housing with husband/father Lang when the bombing occurs. He is immediately called away by military responsibilities, leaving April and Marty to cope with being shifted around the island for their safety, and then shipped stateside, where they remain for the rest of the war. April and Marty alternate as narrators, and the difference in their perspectives on the events in Hawaii and later in Boston is, though not surprising, quite striking. It's particularly interesting to see the way Marty fills in the blanks when she has no information - she clearly doesn't understand, for instance, that her father's absence is not voluntary. Author Starbird's examination of the nature and function of memory is particularly effective. The writing is beautiful, striking just the right balance as it moves back and forth between the two contrasting voices. The lion of the title is a character in a recurring nightmare experienced by Marty and serves to tie the book together neatly in the end. This is a great read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lillian

    “It was December seventh, nineteen forty-one. No, that’s history, not the beginning of a story. In the story, it was a rainy Sunday, and when I woke, the mynah birds were quarreling in the avocado trees on the lawn, and the rain was splashing and dripping from the great red poinsettia blooms outside my window." (P.10) Told in the alternating voices of five-year old Marty Langsmith and her mother April thus begins the memory of that explosive day when their world was changed irreparably. Starbird “It was December seventh, nineteen forty-one. No, that’s history, not the beginning of a story. In the story, it was a rainy Sunday, and when I woke, the mynah birds were quarreling in the avocado trees on the lawn, and the rain was splashing and dripping from the great red poinsettia blooms outside my window." (P.10) Told in the alternating voices of five-year old Marty Langsmith and her mother April thus begins the memory of that explosive day when their world was changed irreparably. Starbird paints a vivid portrait of the devastation of the Japanese attack, the uncertainty of their deployed father and husband and how these two females along with other women and children all over the island learned to cope with their sorrow and struggle to survive. The fiction here is more real than history, more trustworthy and believable than any historical account. Starbird’s prose is poetic, and lyrical with an insight into time, memory and the human condition that is incomparable. Her characters are vibrant, authentic and well drawn, who with pain, bits of humor and a strong sense of will, learn to navigate their broken world in the aftermath of a devastating moment in time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Picked up as an Amazon freebie. Thought the story would focus more on Honolulu immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; instead, the events unfolded through the point of view of a few characters in an isolated military community. I was jolted by several racist comments (to be expected, I suppose, given the time period). Events are told from the alternating perspectives of a military wife and her five-year-old daughter. This was an interesting technique to illustrate how memories of the sam Picked up as an Amazon freebie. Thought the story would focus more on Honolulu immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; instead, the events unfolded through the point of view of a few characters in an isolated military community. I was jolted by several racist comments (to be expected, I suppose, given the time period). Events are told from the alternating perspectives of a military wife and her five-year-old daughter. This was an interesting technique to illustrate how memories of the same events are perceived by different people. It's hard to say which version was "right"; although a reader may tend to discount the child's version because of her age, the mother was so preoccupied that her version may not be completely correct either.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This book is now in my top 5 ever... The story and characters are so beautifully written, I chose to get 4 hours of sleep for 3nights, because I could not put it down.. I borrowed the book through my kindle library and I plan on buying a hard copy to have forever.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Priscilla Basilio

    This book will be one that will stick with me for a very long time. I just loved it. I felt like I knew these women and I was there with them. It’s such a different take on a WWII novel. I wanted more.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    This was a First Reads win. I read a lot of WWII fiction. I agree with Nancy Pearl that this book is worthy of being pulled out of obscurity and re-presented and thank her for it - it is a great program, and I would look other works she chooses. I was glad to read this book as I haven't read any other fiction that deals with first hand experiences of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the time that followed. The main device used by the author is to tell the same stories twice, once from the mother's This was a First Reads win. I read a lot of WWII fiction. I agree with Nancy Pearl that this book is worthy of being pulled out of obscurity and re-presented and thank her for it - it is a great program, and I would look other works she chooses. I was glad to read this book as I haven't read any other fiction that deals with first hand experiences of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the time that followed. The main device used by the author is to tell the same stories twice, once from the mother's point of view and once from the daughter's point of view. Sometimes they differ, sometimes they are the same. Most of the time it is in very small details, and even when the difference is more significant, it doesn't make much difference per se. If I were inclined to be critical, I could say it is one way of bringing a shorter story up to full novel length! My favorite parts of the book were at the beginning right after the attack where the various neighborhood women came together in their stengths and weaknesses and despite their differences. I found the later parts of the book, once they had returned to the East to be weaker, and as an editor, I would have worked with the author to further develop some of this aspect prior to publication. It did leave me curious though as to how representative Marty and her cousin Joe's feelings were about their fathers. I think she probably did a pretty good job. Although my mother was an older child at the time, I so wish I had explored this period of her life with her in more detail as her father served a number of years in Europe during the war while I had the opportunity. This book is worth the read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I won a copy of this book from good reads and very much appreciate being given the opportunity to read it. In the normal course of events, I probably would have not known of this book's existence which would have been my loss. "The Lion in the Lei Shop" is a very thought provoking and moving account of a military family's experiences during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the aftermath as told through the eyes of a young child and her mother. This account may be the closest I will ever come to u I won a copy of this book from good reads and very much appreciate being given the opportunity to read it. In the normal course of events, I probably would have not known of this book's existence which would have been my loss. "The Lion in the Lei Shop" is a very thought provoking and moving account of a military family's experiences during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the aftermath as told through the eyes of a young child and her mother. This account may be the closest I will ever come to understanding, on an even basic level, what it must have been like to have been caught up in a war and the repercussions felt by those who loved and been separated from those who served in the Pacific theater of WWII. War is not just about the fighting and the dying. It's also about the families of the Soldiers and what they have to endure as they wait to see if the ones the love ever come home. Will they even recognize themselves and how they and their memories have changed after the shooting stops. I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to delve below the surface level of what a war does to those who are not the warriors, but inextricably connected to the carnage and the damage done by war.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    I very much enjoyed this book that tells of the WWII experience not of a soldier but of his wife and child. This family is living nearby when Pearl Harbor is bombed in 1941, and the author tells their story from the alternating perspective of the mother and the child. I especially liked the author's skill in seeing through the eyes of a 5 or 6 year old girl, the mixing of fantasy and reality to try to make sense to all that was happening, and the concrete logic that can be utilized by a child, a I very much enjoyed this book that tells of the WWII experience not of a soldier but of his wife and child. This family is living nearby when Pearl Harbor is bombed in 1941, and the author tells their story from the alternating perspective of the mother and the child. I especially liked the author's skill in seeing through the eyes of a 5 or 6 year old girl, the mixing of fantasy and reality to try to make sense to all that was happening, and the concrete logic that can be utilized by a child, and is sometimes hard to refute with an adult vision. The author also subtly contrasts the memories of both narrators, showing how the same incident is recounted differently.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Yarborough

    I've read quite a few books about WWII, but never one that was about the wives and civilians of Pearl Harbor immediately after the attack of Dec 7th. A very different perspective. . .this book is told in two different voices, the wife/mother and the child. I enjoyed the style of the author as well as the story. I've read quite a few books about WWII, but never one that was about the wives and civilians of Pearl Harbor immediately after the attack of Dec 7th. A very different perspective. . .this book is told in two different voices, the wife/mother and the child. I enjoyed the style of the author as well as the story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This is a book that opened my eyes to what it was like to be at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed if you were a military dependent. I'd never thought about those people before, and it was interesting to read about what life was like for them. It is well written, and it liked the two viewpoints of the same event. This is a book that opened my eyes to what it was like to be at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed if you were a military dependent. I'd never thought about those people before, and it was interesting to read about what life was like for them. It is well written, and it liked the two viewpoints of the same event.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    LOVED this wonderful gem of a book. It is narrated by mother and five year old daughter of military family stationed at Schofield Base when Pearl Harbor was bombed and its aftermath. Beautifully written i could not put it down!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Eby

    I co-narrated this with Kate Rudd. I think it's going to be a really good listen. Kate is fantastic and she reads the sections from the daughter. I play the mom. What a lovely, lovely book. I co-narrated this with Kate Rudd. I think it's going to be a really good listen. Kate is fantastic and she reads the sections from the daughter. I play the mom. What a lovely, lovely book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lucile

    Our book club has read a lot of WWII books in the last few years. Recently we talked about finding books about different wars or at least different perspectives on WWII. The Lion in the Lei Shop is the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and its aftermath told in alternating voices. Originally published in 1970, the book was re-published in 2013. April is a young wife with a five-year-old daughter, Marty. Life in Hawaii is good. They enjoy Sunday's at the beach, a household servant, and a husban Our book club has read a lot of WWII books in the last few years. Recently we talked about finding books about different wars or at least different perspectives on WWII. The Lion in the Lei Shop is the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and its aftermath told in alternating voices. Originally published in 1970, the book was re-published in 2013. April is a young wife with a five-year-old daughter, Marty. Life in Hawaii is good. They enjoy Sunday's at the beach, a household servant, and a husband who comes home every night just like everyone else. The bombing of Pearl Harbor disrupts their Sunday, but April believes life will go on as usual. Her sister, Liz, whose husband is a military Doctor is less confident and requires physical and emotional care that adds more stress to April's life. April becomes the head of a "new" family, her sister, nephew, and daughter are now her sole responsibility as they travel to the United States by Navy ship followed by a train to Boston. Marty and her cousin are disappointed when their beach day is canceled but continue to play with the other kids believing the worst is over. One of the neighbor boys convinces Marty that the small shop across the road, which once sold leis, now houses a green lion. It becomes the focus of her nightmares for many years as it symbolizes both fear and loss. Marty only knows life on the island, it is hard when she and her mother are sent to the United States with other pregnant women and their children. She loves her grandparents but doesn' like living in a big, stuffy house in Boston. While April has to learn to live without Lang she is not fully aware of the impact on Marty. The dreams that haunt her daughter year after year are unexplainable. She doesn't understand the hate her daughter feels for her distant father. It takes a new step-father to help Marty to heal and end the nightmares about the awful green lion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I really enjoyed this one, and learned a lot about the women and children left behind when their husbands went off to war. It was a hard way to live and cope with everything happening when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I thought of my Dad and Mom, he proposed to her the day it happened and left for the war soon after. I loved the little girl, Marty and her Mother...their story was interesting, but also sad at times. All in all, it was a good read for me. From Amazon: Marty Langsmith is only five yea I really enjoyed this one, and learned a lot about the women and children left behind when their husbands went off to war. It was a hard way to live and cope with everything happening when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I thought of my Dad and Mom, he proposed to her the day it happened and left for the war soon after. I loved the little girl, Marty and her Mother...their story was interesting, but also sad at times. All in all, it was a good read for me. From Amazon: Marty Langsmith is only five years old when a strange thunder rolls across the Hawaiian sky and life as she knows it explodes into flames. With her mother, April, and hundreds of other women and children, Marty is evacuated from the ruins of Pearl Harbor and sent into a brave new world overshadowed by uncertainty and grief. Feeling abandoned by her deployed Army officer father in the wake of the attack, Marty is haunted by nightmares of the lion in the lei shop, a creature that’s said to devour happy children. But as the years pass, mother and daughter slowly begin to embrace their new life and make peace with the pain of the past. Spanning the tumultuous war years, The Lion in the Lei Shop deftly recaptures a dramatic chapter of American history. Originally published in 1970 and reissued for a new generation of readers as part of renowned librarian Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries series, this lyrical novel gives a rarely heard voice to the women and children of Pearl Harbor.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Guthrie

    Good read I enjoyed the subject matter of this book, especially since I have lived in Hawaii and I have family members that were there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wish I had asked them more questions about that day and this book sparked questions of perspective for my uncle who was a sailor and his ship had left Hawaii the day before the attack. And I especially wish I had talked to my husband's grandmother who is Japanese American and would tell me stories of hearing the planes coming t Good read I enjoyed the subject matter of this book, especially since I have lived in Hawaii and I have family members that were there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wish I had asked them more questions about that day and this book sparked questions of perspective for my uncle who was a sailor and his ship had left Hawaii the day before the attack. And I especially wish I had talked to my husband's grandmother who is Japanese American and would tell me stories of hearing the planes coming through the valley. I found it a little difficult at times to follow the narrative as the author switched from reality to made up dreams that intertwined with occurrences. I appreciated reading the child and then mothers viewpoints of happenings and how they differ. Overall it was a quick read and valuable to think of those left behind, like my aunt, and what life they endured during g bleak times with limited technology.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tawny

    Favorite lines: 1. "It took a long night of darkness to appreciate a day of sun" (12). 2. "Our ambitions shrink with adversity, I thought. Someone who's cold wants only a fire. Someone who's tired wants only a bed. And we who will probably miss many things again tomorrow . . . tonight want only a meal in our stomachs and the planes in the airfields" (135). Favorite lines: 1. "It took a long night of darkness to appreciate a day of sun" (12). 2. "Our ambitions shrink with adversity, I thought. Someone who's cold wants only a fire. Someone who's tired wants only a bed. And we who will probably miss many things again tomorrow . . . tonight want only a meal in our stomachs and the planes in the airfields" (135).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Doris

    Deserves 5+++!! Pearl Harbor and WWII told through the eyes of mother and daughter, April and Marty. Marty sees the war through her 6-year-old eyes and experiences while April's memories are told throughthe eyes of a young mother left alone and responsible for her young daughter and pregnant self. Don't miss this one!! The language is beautiful, descriptive and engrossing. Deserves 5+++!! Pearl Harbor and WWII told through the eyes of mother and daughter, April and Marty. Marty sees the war through her 6-year-old eyes and experiences while April's memories are told throughthe eyes of a young mother left alone and responsible for her young daughter and pregnant self. Don't miss this one!! The language is beautiful, descriptive and engrossing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda Owen

    World War II through the eyes of navy families in Honolulu, who experienced the bombing and the subsequent dislocation. A real downer of a novel, told alternately by April and her daughter Marty. It does end on a positive note, but it doesn't undo the tone. World War II through the eyes of navy families in Honolulu, who experienced the bombing and the subsequent dislocation. A real downer of a novel, told alternately by April and her daughter Marty. It does end on a positive note, but it doesn't undo the tone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This was a wonderful story of a young girl and her mother, evacuated from Pearl Harbor after the bombing and how they remember the events of their lives in that difficult period. It was fascinating reading the same events from the eyes of a child and a woman.

  21. 5 out of 5

    barbara

    Loved this book as it gives another perspective of the effects of wartime on the family. A daughter( not from this story) of the author is a member of my book club so I am eager to hear her thoughts at our next meeting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Not for me. dnf.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aurelia

    The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird A while back, I read the book The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird. It was recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy. I think this was a hard book for me to read because, in many ways, it hit strangely close to home. It was a novel that was written from two perspectives, telling the story twice. The two characters are mother and daughter and the story explores the question of perspective and how the perspectives of adults and children differ. Marty is five ye The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird A while back, I read the book The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird. It was recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy. I think this was a hard book for me to read because, in many ways, it hit strangely close to home. It was a novel that was written from two perspectives, telling the story twice. The two characters are mother and daughter and the story explores the question of perspective and how the perspectives of adults and children differ. Marty is five years old when her home in Hawaii is thrown into chaos by the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her mother, April, who is pregnant at the time, reacts with the dutiful obedience of an army wife and helps organize the women, including her sister, Liz, who is also pregnant and farther along than April. Yet, in the midst of the chaos around them, neither woman seems to communicate with or even pay attention to their children. And that, friends, is the theme of the story. Starbird tells of how Marty and April travel to Boston to live with April’s parents before ending up buying a small house out in the country. Throughout the story, Marty is expected to take more and more responsibility, all the while April apparently ignores her daughter in her distress. The different perspectives are interesting because you hear Marty’s honest, childlike version of what happened, and then you hear her mother’s version, which rarely matches up with what Marty thought happened. The story is really good, but the storytelling becomes really infuriating. The characters waver between enchanting and annoying as Marty becomes obsessed with a lion in her nightmare and April spends a good portion of the novel ignoring her daughter (and after the second baby is born, daughters) and the obvious problems she is having adjusting to life after the bombing. Typical of family life in this era, there is no communication between the mother and her daughters, leaving the little ones confused and angry. This is a hard book to rate because the story and writing are so good, but the characters so infuriating at times. I don’t think I would reread this one, but I will give it 3.5/5 stars. I think it would be a good book for a book group or discussion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hester

    I only read this because it was part of Amazon's Prime Kindle Lending Library and it sounded somewhat interesting and again, it was FREE, but it turned out to be a case of the dreaded good sounding premise but just an okay book. Marty and her mother April both recount how their lives changed on the morning of Dec. 7th 1941 and of the days, weeks, months and years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each chapter is devoted to Marty or her mother's memory of events and highlights how each memory var I only read this because it was part of Amazon's Prime Kindle Lending Library and it sounded somewhat interesting and again, it was FREE, but it turned out to be a case of the dreaded good sounding premise but just an okay book. Marty and her mother April both recount how their lives changed on the morning of Dec. 7th 1941 and of the days, weeks, months and years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each chapter is devoted to Marty or her mother's memory of events and highlights how each memory varies such as Marty remembers wearing a green velvet dress and April says Marty was wearing a white dress. And yeah, who really cares? We also get side tracked by some white liberal guilt. In one really not needed scene April and her fellow whitey white white neighbor invite a black solider on sentry duty in for some Christmas cookies. As they discuss racism and hate and blah blah this and blather blather that I got dizzy from how fast my eyes went rolling around in my head. I found Nancy Pearl's introduction to be an odd admission of suffering from the occasional bout of delusion. Pearl confesses to the reader that her memory isn't that great and that when she does remember something from her own life it normally turns out to be something she read in a book. Someone needs to remember to take her medicine and learn how to put down a book from time to time to make some real memories of her own. To me this story wasn't all that memorable and I'll forget it soon enough, but I think I'll always remember the memorable introduction given by Pearl.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It could have been so much more, but wasn't. In the beginning the author, who clearly didn't do enough research, throws out supposed bits of history, which were inaccurate and totally unnecessary. Then she never touches the subject again. Given her lack of decent research it was probably a good thing, but odd in an historical novel and the reader needed more information on how the war was going and how it affected the general populace. Because I a I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It could have been so much more, but wasn't. In the beginning the author, who clearly didn't do enough research, throws out supposed bits of history, which were inaccurate and totally unnecessary. Then she never touches the subject again. Given her lack of decent research it was probably a good thing, but odd in an historical novel and the reader needed more information on how the war was going and how it affected the general populace. Because I am well versed in the subject, I really noticed the holes and inaccuracies. The story is told through two voices, Marty (who is 5 when the story opens and 9 when it ends) and April, 25 when the story opens. I never warmed to Marty, which was itself strange. I read lots of childrens books and generally become engrossed with the child's point of view. I usually felt Marty was annoying or her comments snarky. In the first half of the book I liked April and thought her story was much more interesting. She gives us a much clearer picture of the other military wives, many of whom I really liked. The book definitely loses both interest and power when Liz and Honey are absent. April herself, as she slips into depression, becomes less interesting, too. There's little to draw the reader to the new men who are introduced, which is too bad because I think they both would have added interest and information the reader needed. Generally, this book was very uneven and I can't recommend it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bookreaderljh

    The Pearl Harbor attack that began US involvement in WWII I usually thought about from the point of view of the soldiers that fought or died that day but the Lion in the Lei Shop takes that event and views it through the eyes of a wife and very young daughter who were on the base and ultimately have to not only say goodbye to their soldier husband/father as he goes to war but also their home as they are evacuated out of danger. Seeing the fear and misinformation and hurried preparation and even The Pearl Harbor attack that began US involvement in WWII I usually thought about from the point of view of the soldiers that fought or died that day but the Lion in the Lei Shop takes that event and views it through the eyes of a wife and very young daughter who were on the base and ultimately have to not only say goodbye to their soldier husband/father as he goes to war but also their home as they are evacuated out of danger. Seeing the fear and misinformation and hurried preparation and even boredom of the days following the attack from the women's point of view alters many preconceptions of that time nd the author is so good at letting you see the interplay of the various characters. Each has a different story to present and though April's story is at the forefront, I soon knew more of her sister and neighbors and the community of women needed to get through that time when the men were literally far removed. But the pathos of the book came from 5 year old Marty's story. Her magical thinking, her fears and nightmares, her anger at having to grow up too fast, and her crossed feelings about her father. Childhood is often difficult to navigate but in wartime it is practically impossible. The lion that lurks in the shop and follows Marty in her nightmares is hard to tame until she finally gets some help from the new man in her life. Very good book written at a time when other wars had passed or were beginning.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    This book recounts the events of WWII in the unique voices of April, a young mother and Marty, her daughter who is five when Pearl Harbor is attacked. The family is stationed at Scofield Barracks in Hawaii in December 1941. Their happy family existence is shattered as Honolulu receives devastating damage at the hands of the Japanese attackers. Mother and daughter are parted from their loving husband and father as they return to the mainland to wait out the war. The subsequent hardships they endu This book recounts the events of WWII in the unique voices of April, a young mother and Marty, her daughter who is five when Pearl Harbor is attacked. The family is stationed at Scofield Barracks in Hawaii in December 1941. Their happy family existence is shattered as Honolulu receives devastating damage at the hands of the Japanese attackers. Mother and daughter are parted from their loving husband and father as they return to the mainland to wait out the war. The subsequent hardships they endure and their personal feelings and struggles through the war are each related with some striking differences. April faces depression and despondency and Marty tries too hard to be a good girl and meet everyone's needs. As a reader, you witness the love of both mother and child for one another and their inability to fully understand each other. They are deeply dependent but the gaps in their view of and response to events means that they are unable to fully help the other in healing. The story of both the challenges of memory and the challenges of love ring true. I really enjoyed this story and related to their experience due to my own military family experiences but the book is sad and the struggles difficult. Recommended for history and family story fans who do not mind somewhat difficult material.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kari Lynn Mackey

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird from Amazon Publishing via GoodReads First Reads. The Lion in the Lei Shop tells the moving story of a military family whose lives are transformed by the air raids on Pearl Harbor and the events that follow. Of the two viewpoints used to tell the story, the young daughter, Marty, is the more compelling narrator, while her mother April's parts of the tale come across cold and matter-of-fact at times. It is perhaps unne Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird from Amazon Publishing via GoodReads First Reads. The Lion in the Lei Shop tells the moving story of a military family whose lives are transformed by the air raids on Pearl Harbor and the events that follow. Of the two viewpoints used to tell the story, the young daughter, Marty, is the more compelling narrator, while her mother April's parts of the tale come across cold and matter-of-fact at times. It is perhaps unnecessary for the mother to repeatedly discredit her daughter's memories of certain events, since the separate narratives of the same incidents clearly establish already that each character remembers things rather differently. Because the two tellings overlap more so than intertwine, the plot does not move along as smoothly as it might, and the second telling does not always add much in terms of perspective. The tiny details, from food to clothes to personal relationships with the loveably quirky cast of minor characters, help make this novel as vividly real as a memoir. Fans of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will also enjoy The Lion in the Lei Shop.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debby

    FABULOUS. This is the story of a wife and daughter and their fellow wives and children of the navy and air force men on Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. The story is told through the eyes of a 5year old - Marty and her early 20 something mother April. It shows what happens to people under the stress of being attacked, and what happens along the way as the dependents are moved from Pearl Harbor to a shelter and then back to their homes. Finally they are boarded on a ship and travel in a convoy ba FABULOUS. This is the story of a wife and daughter and their fellow wives and children of the navy and air force men on Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. The story is told through the eyes of a 5year old - Marty and her early 20 something mother April. It shows what happens to people under the stress of being attacked, and what happens along the way as the dependents are moved from Pearl Harbor to a shelter and then back to their homes. Finally they are boarded on a ship and travel in a convoy back to the mainland. Pregnant women lose their babies. Children suffer things that adults cannot understand. Great book. I highly recommend it. Another couple quotes: "Nobody owns a house, I thought. Nobody owns a person or an inch of ground or love. ….. Time owns everything, I thought. Time holds all the mortgages. And any hour of any day Time can foreclose" pg 242 "I don't know if there's any truth in the saying that one sick person can kill six well ones; I only know that one person's tragedy is never one person's tragedy. The fatal bullet ricochets, wounding many people." pg 244

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I liked this book. But be warned. This is not a book about the war. This is a war about relationships and more importantly how we all see the world differently. How one person's truth may differ from another person' s even when they have both experienced the same event; yet neither is wrong or false. Some people have complained about the ethnic slurs in this book of which there are many. But this is a book written almost 45 years ago about a time period that is almost 70 years in the past. Things I liked this book. But be warned. This is not a book about the war. This is a war about relationships and more importantly how we all see the world differently. How one person's truth may differ from another person' s even when they have both experienced the same event; yet neither is wrong or false. Some people have complained about the ethnic slurs in this book of which there are many. But this is a book written almost 45 years ago about a time period that is almost 70 years in the past. Things were different then and there actually is a scene in the book with a young black soldier who basically says 'words are what you make them.' In other words, we give those words the power to hurt. I will try to come back and quote the actual book, I just don't have it in front of me. Marty and her mother are two people you start to feel for. It covers a difficult series of years in their lives and alternates back and forth between their voices. I wish I had read this when my grandmother was still alive. I would have liked to ask her about what she remembered.

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