Review of “A Song for the Stars” by Ilima Todd

Todd, Ilima. A Song for the Stars. Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 2019.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1629725284 | 296 pages | Historical Romance

5 stars

While it can often be true that hype can kill enjoyment of a book, this is not one of those times. A Song for the Stars is nothing short of amazing. And in part it may be due to finally being able to apply some of my own long-neglected (albeit elementary) knowledge of Hawaiian language and history, and see the setting highlighted in a mainstream published historical romance of all places.

But it’s also due to Ilima Todd’s clear enthusiasm for what she calls “the book of my heart,” (286) inspired by her fourth great-grandparents. And while her passion for Hawaii and the Pacific were already evident in her depictions of setting in her prior books, I love how she clearly showed care in ensuring that, while certain historical events and customs had to be modified for fiction, she represented them in a way that ultimately respects Native Hawaiian readers, and educates those who may not be familiar with Hawaiian history and culture while entertaining them with a beautiful love story.

I really liked the structure of this story, with Maile’s perspective being conveyed through “standard” prose and John’s through journal entries, and it’s wonderful to see their evolving relationship and their growing understanding of each other’s cultural differences through both of their perspectives, especially since things start off between them with a somewhat tense situation. And I wasn’t sure at first how I would feel about their growing romance, since Maile is depicted as being very committed to someone else at the beginning, but I feel like it was handled in as delicate a way as it could be, given the timeframe the story takes place in, with a believable transfer of her affections to John.

Upon finishing, I cannot help but hope that this isn’t the last Hawaiian historical Todd will write, given her clear passion for the subject, as unlikely as writing historical fiction seemed to her at first. And while I have some reservations about recommending her other work to people, I enthusiastically recommend this one to anyone looking for a richly detailed and compelling historical.

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