So I'm going to tell you something just a little bit scandalous for a Samoan girl. I imagine that your eyes are already skipping down the screen to read my revelation.... yes I know you and your faikakala-ness so well! Well slow down and I'll share my school girl fantasy, for the very first time ....EVER.....
Oh wait.....I don't need to, because Lani Wendt-Young somehow read teenage me's mind! Then she wrote all about it in "When Water Burns"! I feel like the "bride stripped bare". Ok I know you're all nodding in agreement and understanding, and thinking, it's Daniel.... *heavy sigh* and Keahi.... *even heavier sigh*, it's the fact that they're both super hot paddlers in an outrigger competition, and they're both super cut, that they both have tattoos, that they have super powers, and that they are fighting over
The first book in the Telesa trilogy "Telesa-The Covenant Keeper" had left us on tenterhooks. Sure Daniel's responsible, and really good looking, sure he was head prefect, and sure he plays rugby, and sure he is close to perfect to take home to your parents
When Water Burns built brilliantly on Telesa, using the clever character development and scene setting in the first book, to make this second book faster paced and even more impossible to put down. I was smiling wryly to myself, reading about iphone 4 conversations, on the kindle app on my iphone 4s (I obviously had to get the gratuitous mention of my iphone in there, you know I did!). Yes it was wrecking my eyes, but it was enabling reading while doing the domestic duties that desperately needed the most attention
When Water Burns delves more into the "dalacious" Simone, who really comes into her own in the second book of the series. Simone is still screamingly funny (see Tim Baice's write-up in Simone in the City for some great insights), but in this book Simone is the girlfriend we all wanted, wise and witty, making sure Leila sees sense... such as ensuring she makes appropriate arrangements for her Louboutin shoes (appropriate arrangements being willing them to Simone of course, I said wise, not lacking in self-interest!)
I'm a reader, a book worm, a super geek. I embrace it! As anyone who has ever glanced at my blog will know, for me reading has been a real joy, a comfort and a constant companion. Perhaps it's because we all love sharing our own passions, that I loved how Telesa and When Water Burns appealed to many people who don't necessarily have those particular proclivities. It's one of the things I love about both books. Like Twilight, and The Hunger Games Series, it opened up reading to so many young Samoans, who may not have otherwise have been interested in reading. That's an amazing thing.
But for me, an even more amazing thing, and what I liked best about When Water Burns was how it confronted the issue of sexual abuse, a serious and difficult issue, especially in Samoa. The fact that When Water Burns wove in this issue that we avoid, that we don't address or talk about, into this Young Adult fantasy romance, that is reaching so many, really made this book more than just a great read. As a child who was sexually abused, I know too well how this topic is taboo. How it can be swept under the carpet. How victims are too often voiceless. I remember the deep feeling of shame I had all through school, how it was so unspeakable, because I thought this was only something that had only ever happened to me. But I grew up. And I realised that I wasn't the only one, that it had also happened to an awful lot of others, others who hadn't spoken out and stopped it as I did as a child, that it was in fact, all too common. I realised that it's something that we, as a society, need to speak about. Because here's the thing about all the secrecy that surrounds sexual abuse, there is an unspoken implication that it somehow reflects on those who suffered. We never hear about the survivors, or, if we do, we never hear about their successes. We only hear survivors' stories when they are recounted as part of a tragic tale about a person who has gone off the tracks. This is why, a long time ago, I decided to no longer be silent. To say openly, I was sexually abused, and that does not define me or mean I am damaged. To say I was sexually abused, and I refuse to be stereotyped, I am no longer ashamed, and I don't need sympathy. To say I was sexually abused, and I'm a succesful member of society. And to say that as a member of society, not just as someone who was sexually abused, I applaud an author who can bring this issue front and centre in a fun racy Young Adult romance that people will read and relate to.
And so, just as she pays "tribute to the generosity, commitment, and fortitude of those who work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse", I pay tribute to Lani Wendt-Young, who was brave enough to write about it. To say I appreciate it