ISLAND SONG (2nd edition)
by Alan Chin
As Garrett Davidson arrives on the remote Hawaiian island, he is a man in desperate need of the restorative power that a simple life of seclusion and thought can provide. Far from the fast-track corporate life he lost in San Francisco, along with the love of his life to the devastating effects of AIDS, Garrett intends to honor Marc's memory by keeping his promise to document their lives together in a book. The house offered for rent on the bay seems perfect for that purpose, but it comes with an additional feature: Songoree, a local 20 year old who will cook his meals and clean for him during his stay. Garrett sees Song arrive each day, walking with a pretty young Hawaiian girl who then turns back home, but can't help but become fascinated by the young man. Despite some initial awkwardness, Garrett and Song become good friends, and the older man is also fascinated by Song's grandfather, who is the island's shaman or religious leader. The older man seems to sense Garrett's loneliness and sorrow, and provides advice that inspires him to take control of his life in a way he never imagined before.
Originally released in 2008 and billed as a "paranormal, erotic gay novel, Chin's first novel has always been far more than that, as a well-written, engaging and character-driven story about life, death, love, beliefs, attitudes, and an eye-opening look at how we choose to deal with each of those issues. This revised edition, with relatively few changes, flows even better than the original, and is definitely worth checking out, if you missed it the first time (or, even if you read the original, but want to visit it again.) It remains one of my favorite books by this talented author. Five stars out of five.
- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine