A dying child’s life depends on her grandmother's explosive secrets about her tortured past and forbidden love.
A riveting retrospective of the social, political, and economic history of Hawaii told through a historical family saga spanning three generations who meet in the brutal sugar cane fields of Hawaii where a savage crime and failed strike draw the families into an uneasy alliance.
Through the Depression, and three wars, The Ohana is about love, greed, and the struggle to succeed amidst catastrophic world events and prejudice.
Can the families survive the truth behind the lies?
Her granddaughter was dying and only Mary could save her.
"Mom, do you know how to contact my birth father and his family?" The
tension in Jackie's tired voice vibrated through the phone like an
elastic band stretched to its limit.
Mary squeezed the phone and put a fist to her chest to quiet her
fluttering heart. She didn't want to lie to her daughter, especially
during this desperate time. "Maybe," she replied.
"Maybe? You either know how to reach them or you don't." Jackie's voice
grew shrill, like it always did when she was upset.
"I'll try to reach every relative," Mary faltered. “Whatever is
"Well your granddaughter's life depends on it!" Jackie snapped and hung
up the phone.
Trembling, Mariko Han, now called Mary, knelt near the foot of her bed.
At her knees, the old black lacquered Korean chest stood with its lid
raised. She reached deep inside the old trunk, her hands seeking a
yellowed box resting at the bottom.
Now with the box beside her, Mary closed the lid before running her
hands across the elaborate mother of pearl design. She sighed with
pride, knowing the piece belonged to her. She’d been given it as a
gift from her father-in-law, Chaul Roong Han, before he died. Her
husband's family didn't bother to hide their dismay. That their father's
blood was passed over for a Japanese daughter-in-law was unimaginable.
They thought Harabeoji hated the Japanese after what they did to his
family in Korea. If Harabeoji had passed on his beloved chest to her
husband, or even one of his blood grandchildren, no one would have said
a word. Giving Mary the chest was like giving her their Korean heritage.
If only they knew, Mary thought. Living with her in-laws would have been
impossible if it weren't for Harabeoji. They were very close. His
memories of the past fascinated her. The brutal treatment of the Koreans
by her people, the Japanese. The murder that drove him to Hawaii. The
unspeakable crime that forged an uneasy bond of secrecy forced on her
father and father-in-law. Harabeoji's great love affair and the woman he
Mary stared at the evidence of her own hidden past, this box within the
trunk. She slipped a nail along the top and popped it open. Carefully
taking out a figurine of a dancing couple, she placed it on top of the
Even now she could picture herself swirling around the dance floor with
the tall, handsome young man in uniform who had given her the music box
the night before he left for the European battleground.
Jackie’s biological father came into her life at a time when the world
was crumbling around her. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on
December 7, 1941 set in motion cataclysmic change. Thank goodness the
Hawaii she knew was never the same.
Mary touched the blond head of the male dancer. Ever since the war,
she'd lived a lie. Tears came to her eyes. Her granddaughter Ashley had
leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. If a match wasn't found
within a year, Ashley would probably die. Time was of the essence.
Kneeling before the trunk, Mary turned the figurine upside down. The
gold label was faded and peeling, but still readable. Der Letzte Walzer.
The Last Waltz.
"A soldier's last night," she whispered to herself as bittersweet
memories pierced through the veil of time.
Mary kept her secrets close, locked away in intimate, hidden places.
Like the music box. There was so much she never told her children. Even
now, after over thirty years, she couldn't bring herself to reveal that
she knew exactly where to find Jackie's father and his family.
Sighing, she wound the key on the bottom of the music box and placed it
on the lid of the polished trunk. The figures took the first steps of
their dance as the tinkling tune spun its magic. With each note, Mary
slipped further back in time, dancing with the man who once breathed
passion into the broken pieces of her life and wove a dream into the
fabric of her existence.
The music stopped and Mary returned the music box to its hiding place.
She hoped they would find a bone marrow donor within the immediate
family soon. Primarily because she wanted her granddaughter to live. But
selfishly because she didn't want to let out the secret of the music
box. Too many lives could change. Maybe for the worst.
Excerpted from "The Ohana" by C W Schutter. Copyright © 2013 by C W Schutter. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
C W Schutter
I'm originally from Hawaii where I grew up listening to fascinating stories of my family and the people around them from my mother. As far back as I can remember, I loved books. I wrote in a notebook at the age of eight, "I want to grow up to be an author." I loved everything from fairy tales to historical fiction and non-fiction. Books were my passion and my best friends. I preferred reading books to playing with toys. It took me around the world to places I yearned to go to and places I wanted to see. I could be anyone and do the impossible. I became a princess, an equestrian, an adventurer, a warrior, or a ballerina. As an author and a woman who has lived a roller coaster life, my desire is to bring this magical world where everything is possible to anyone who dreams. I want my readers to fall in love with my characters, get mad at them, cry with them, laugh with them, and become a part of their lives. I'd like to take my readers on a journey they will never forget so at the end of the story, the readers will feel like they were part of my made-up world. I wish for them to learn something new and discover new ways of looking at people and situations. I hope to challenge my readers to think in a way they've never thought before. Most of all, I want my stories to resonate in the hearts of everyone who reads my books or sees the movies I wrote. And, of course, I wish to entertain. Thank you and Aloha for reading my stories.
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