Being born and raised in the state of Hawaii is what first pulled me to read “Not by Happenstance”. It takes place in Hāna, Maui, a place that takes a long curvy, not-so-motion-sickness friendly, yet gorgeous path to get to. I’ve been to Hāna, so reading a book placed there was intriguing as I’ve never read a fiction story about my home state before.There is a lot of what we call pidgin in this book, something mentioned in the book called Hawaiian Creole. It is used by the locals a whole lot more than my friends and family ever do. But, I live in a more urban area and it is likely that pidgin could still be popularly spoken by those in the Hāna area. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere near there.
I also sensed slight animosity between the locals and visitors, even though this story is set at a bed and breakfast and the main character is not a local, but actually from California. This may be true in some areas, but I like how the story warms up to the visitors when they show they really care.
The main character is Lokelani (Lani to her friends), she helps her grandmother (who’s real name is Cora, but Lani calls her Puna) take care of the bed and breakfast. Other characters include the interesting Pearl, who is a Chinese visitor who shares the right wisdom at all the right moments; Ahe, Lani’s local friend who doesn’t quite care for haoles (visitors); the college students who wrecked their place; a few others not mentioned much, and most importantly the mysterious, handsome, and flirtatious haole, Easton Allard, who is staying at the bed and breakfast for three whole months.
Constantly attempting to do things and be close to Lani, Easton talks his way into doing things with her with the encouragement of Puna and Pearl. Frustrated, Lani goes anyway and Easton happily tags along, even though Lani made it clear that she is engaged to Derek. But, Easton makes it clear that Lani isn’t wearing an engagement ring, so technically she’s not engaged to anyone.
Their adventures go from a potluck at Ahe’s with Lani’s local friends to fishing, hiking, and cleaning the place the college students trashed. Easton is always there to create memories with Lani, which she doesn’t like at first. It’s always sad when an engagement is broken, but when the love isn’t the same for both people, can it really work? Will being single be an open door for Easton or more frustration for Lani?
It is not often that I stay up all night to finish a book, but this is one of them. Enjoyable and adventurous, flirtatious and cautious, “Not by Happenstance” by Rachel Anderson is a book that will make you go through smiles, tears, blushes, and anger all in its 252 pages.