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The Best Book I Read In 2007
Reading is enjoyable, and sometimes certain books stand out more than others. The best book I read during the year 2007 was Tiare in Bloom by Celestine Vaite. Her first book Breadfruit told the story of Materena raising her three children and finally getting their father and her long-time live-in boyfriend, Pito, to marry her. One thing I thought that was interesting about Breadfruit was I learned many different things about Tahitian culture, such as it is perfectly acceptable for most couples not to get married. Even though this is becoming more the trend in other western countries, in Tahiti it is the norm and no body treats children differently just because they have a single mother. However, Materena wants to be married to Pito because she loves him so much and he is the father of her children, so she is finally able to drag him to the altar with many funny scenarios along the way.
The second book in the series Frangipani is about the coming of age of Materena's bookwormish daughter Leilani. When Leilani was young she would hold Materena's hand on "the truck", the Tahitian transportation system, and tell her mom she felt she was so smart. However, by the time Lelani reaches the age of twelve she begins to ask her mom questions she cannot answer, so Materena buys her daughter a set of encyclopedias and enrolls her in an academically rigorous school. Nevertheless, Leilani and Materena continue to clash and have many differences. Materena knows her daughter is destined for great things because of her intellect, but she is worried and disturbed when she finds out Leilani has a new boyfriend. It takes Leilani a couple of years after high school to decide to pursue a career in medicine, which makes her mother happy and also worried because she is leaving her boyfriend and island home behind. Thus, you will just have to read Tiare in Bloom to find out what happens to Materena, Lelani, and her lazy husband Pito.
Although I love Breadfruit and Frangipani, Tiare in Bloom was my favorite in the series because the story of Materena and Pito comes full circle. In earlier installments we see Pito as the lazy husband who would like to just sit around and play his ukuele, but when his wife gets a job at the local radio station, he becomes very jealous. Everyone is talking about what a great radio celebrity Materena is becoming, and Pito is mad because everyone is treating him like a lump more and more. Materena is reaching the point where she is considering throwing Pito out because all of her children are now grown, and the hopes she once had for the marriage to blossom have faded. Pito has picked up on this vibe and begins to look around for his own place, but he soon realizes that he does not have the financial stability to live on his own.
One day a miracle comes into Pito's life when the baby of their eldest son is given to them unexpectedly. Tiare in Bloom touched me on so many levels because I loved how Pito finally realized he had just been existing through his children's lives. He was a good father and provider, but he had always been emotionally distant from his children. Pito's son Tamatoa had an affair with a woman name Miri, and she has left her child with relatives. One night these relatives leave the child on Pito's doorstep because they claim they can no longer take care of her. The little girl is named Tiare, and her arrival is a wonderful turn of events.
This novel really tugged at me because all children deserve to be loved, and Pito finally understands this with his grand-daughter Tiare. Now he appreciates all the things Materena did when his own children were growing up, plus he is fully in charge of a child for once. It is so cute to watch Pito come to life by taking care of little Tiare. Yes, the words of Vaite's novel are so vivid that the characters actually come to life, and I feel like I am watching a movie in my head.
Also, this novel is inspirational and family driven because Pito wants to help his son Tamatoa grow up and avoid years of emotional distance and heartache from his young daughter Tiare. Mostly this novel is amusing and lighthearted, but I was touched by Pito's transformation from a distant financial provider to an emotional/physical provider of Tiare and his own children. Vaite is a special writer because she writes in English the way people speak French in Tahiti, which is very beautiful and melodic. So if you are looking for a sweet short novel, I highly suggest you should buy the book Tiare in Bloom.