University of Hawaiʻi Press
Softcover, 208 pp.
With roots firmly in the oral storytelling tradition, Kimo Armitage’s The Healers weaves multiple narrators and time periods into a novel of remarkable breadth, giving insight into Hawaiian culture where nature, man, and the spirit world coexist seamlessly. Echoing the voices of long ago, the book celebrates the connection to stories of Hawaii as once told by grandparents and great-grandparents. In the world of The Healers, family and place are revered and aloha is heartfelt.
Cousins Keola and Pua, chosen as the next generation of healers by their family, initially have an idyllic life as respected apprentice healers. Their days are spent training with their grandmother, investigating the healing properties of plants, and treating ailments of community and family members. Troubling dreams, however, foreshadow a sea change to come. One day, Pua meets and is immediately attracted to Tiki, a descendant of a powerful healing family from Tahiti, who has been mysteriously abandoned by his parents. Months later, Keola is sent across the island to train with Laka, the family’s most knowledgeable healer, who was born with no arms or legs. A life-threatening challenge awaits this close-knit unit, and they must call upon generations of ancestral knowledge and skill to save those that stand at the precipice of death.
This compelling novel fills a gap in the Hawaiian literary canon of works for young adult readers.
Kimo Armitage is an award-winning author who has published more than twenty books, mainly for children and young adults. Raised in Hale`iwa by his maternal grandparents, he is assistant professor at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, where he teaches Hawaiian and indigenous literature.