“‘Ewa Which Way” by Tyler Miranda

'Ewa Which Way

“You and me, Luke, we bruddas. We gotta stick together.”

In the 1980s, 12-year old Landon De Silva and his family moved from ‘ĀlewaHeights to Pupu Street in ‘EwaBeach, Oahu. He is coping with a distant father and a resentful mother who fight all the time; a younger brother, 8-year old Luke, who does impulsive and “mental” things; and taunts of “chicken” at school because he was caught between the need to stand up for himself and walk away from a fight.

He finds freedom on the ocean with a surfboard and his best friend Toby, and receives support from Toby’s understanding mother, Mrs. Ka’ea, and his GT (gifted and talented) teachers, who encourage and challenge him. When Luke challenges him to do something about their family, Landon is alternately angry, hopeful, ashamed, suicidal, and determined. While Landon looks at divorce as a solution, he learns that all along Luke’s outrageous behavior was to distract their parents from fighting.

Written in the first person, “’Ewa Which Way” (2013) by Tyler Miranda is a novel about brothers sticking together, responsibility vs. the longing to be free, holding on to the good and letting go of the bad (Toby’s surfboard and Jason’s ankle-weights), choosing to act, and making your own second chances. Much of the dialog is written in “pidgin” English, which takes some getting used to (I find it harder to read than listen to). We see racial tensions against haole in school, contrasted with Landon’s mother’s admiration for everything haole even as she seems to disdain her Portuguese heritage. There is physical and verbal abuse (slaps, caning, name-calling, and Landon is implicitly blamed for being born).

Landon thinks that his mom is willfully blind, only able to lose her roses and the bird Rosie, but not able to love her sons, who love her. He seems uncritical of his father, or perhaps he doesn’t care as much about him. Despite his dad’s big, exuberant family and his mother’s church, Landon’s parents seem alone, unwilling or unable to ask for help, and still scarred by their own parents’ betrayal. Landon seems to be a passive and serious character, always watching things; but the actions he does take (choosing to be in the GT program, suggesting to his mom that she needs to file for divorce, deciding to return home) are mature and optimistic.

Though Landon and I both grew up in Hawaii in the same decade, we had very different upbringings. Landon’s childhood was a raw glimpse into another world of broken families and prejudice.

If you are reading this with young adults, it’s a great opportunity to discuss family relationships, brotherhood, and friendship – and science. Here are a few suggestions:
* Draw your family tree and share family stories. For young children, Disney has a three-generation Tigger family tree. For large or extended families, DLTK’s Bible Crafts for Kids has a family tree template with apples that you place on the tree.
* Do an oral history project. FamilyArchives.com has a helpful list of questions kick-start an interview.
* Learn more about hurricanes, severe weather, and preparing for storms. The American Red Cross has a printable “Watch Out… Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book.” 

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