Red Sky Over Hawaii: A Novel

Written by Sara Ackerman
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

World War II is up close and personal for Lana Hitchcock in the December 1941 setting of Red Sky Over Hawaii. A young betrayed wife flies to care for her gravely ill father and finds herself harboring fugitives in his refuge in the high rainforest of Kilauea Volcano. Lana’s always wanted a family of her own, and now she’s got one: two young daughters of German immigrants who have been detained and a Japanese fisherman and his son, both in danger of internment. Enter cowboy-turned-army-major Grant Bailey, a mutual attraction and readers have conflict galore: Lana’s lies begin to catch up with her and come between them.

More storytelling of the show-don’t-tell variety and a keener editor’s eye for anachronisms (queen size mattresses were not yet introduced in 1941, “closure” was not a social psychology term until the 1990s, and 1980s for “person of interest” as a law enforcement phrase) might have made Red Sky Over Hawaii even more enjoyable. But vibrant characters of both the two and four-legged variety, a sympathetic heroine and an extraordinary sense of place provide wonderful hallmarks of this drama.  Touched with magical realism (red volcano-kissed honey, made by a protective swarm of 40,000 bees, the spirit of Lana’s eccentric father hovering throughout) add to the appeal.