Friday, March 19, 2021

Audio Book Review: Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Other Books By Author: Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers,
and The Lieutenant's Nurse
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Inspired by real places and events of WWII, Red Sky Over Hawaii immerses the reader in a time of American history full of suspicion and peril in this lush and poignant tale about the indisputable power of doing the right thing against all odds.  The attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything for Lana Hitchcock. Arriving home on the Big Island too late to reconcile with her estranged father, she is left alone to untangle the clues of his legacy, which lead to a secret property tucked away in the remote rain forest of Kilauea volcano. When the government starts taking away her neighbors as suspected sympathizers, Lana shelters two young German girls, a Japanese fisherman and his son. As tensions escalate, they are forced into hiding—only to discover the hideaway house is not what they expected.  When a detainment camp is established nearby, Lana struggles to keep the secrets of those in her care. Trust could have dangerous consequences. As their lives weave together, Lana begins to understand the true meaning of family and how the bonds of love carry us through the worst times.


Obviously the attack on Pearl Harbor had a profound impact on people's lives, especially for those who lived on Hawaii.  Lana Hitchcock receives a message from her father that he is sick, so she decides to head back home to the Big Island of Hawaii.  She hopes to repair her fractured relationship with her father, but instead she is too late and now she has to deal with the problems he left behind.  First up, she finds out her father has a secret hideout hidden in the forest at the base of Kilauea Volcano.  What could this be about? Meanwhile, Lana is trying to sort through her life and starts to bear witness to the consequences of Pearl Harbor as some of her neighbors are considered "suspicious" by those in charge. Ultimately, her neighbors, specifically the parents of two German girls, are being rounded up with their little ones left behind.  Hawaii isn't sure if the Japanese are going to attack again and they are unsure who is a sympathizer.  Lana ends up helping the two young German girls, Marie and Coco, because she is unsure how long will their parents be detained. She also helps a Japanese fisherman and his son.  There's only one thing to do before they are rounded up by the authorities: take them to her dad's secret hideout in Volcano.  Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman is a memorable audio book that highlights not only the implications of Pearl Harbor on the island of Hawaii, but it illustrates the suspicion many had towards their neighbors, the prejudice, and the upsetting consequences.

Lana is an interesting character and one that I enjoyed in Red Sky Over Hawaii. She's the kind of main character that you can't help but root for and I enjoyed her determination to do the right thing for her friends.  It's very upsetting to learn this side of history, specifically the detention centers, the ugly prejudices, and how Americans became so suspicious of our neighbors, but it's an important lesson to learn and I think Ackerman shares it well.  Lana also has a chance for romance in this novel, which was also done well, especially since she is trying to get over her failing marriage and numerous heartaches.  

One thing I can always count on Ackerman to showcase is Hawaii and all its beauty. She really sets the stage and it's a nice mental vacation. Readers feel like they are there on Hawaii and enjoying the gorgeous foliage, the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells. I haven't been to the Big Island in over ten years, but she took me back there. I can really tell that Ackerman was born in Hawaii and currently lives there, because her depictions are so very vivid.  Red Sky Over Hawaii can be a serious historical tale, but it's extremely evocative, which I especially appreciated since I have been longing to travel.

If you are looking for an audio book that will not only teach you about history, but will also transport you to the beautiful island of Hawaii, look no further! While Red Sky Over Hawaii wasn't my favorite of Ackerman's novels, I still really enjoyed this tale about bravery, friendship, and the importance of doing what is right during difficult times. Even though the story takes place during WWII, it's themes are actually very timely.

Are you a fan of Ackerman's novels? Have you read Red Sky Over Hawaii? Do you like books set in Hawaii? Let me know in the comments below. 



  1. I love the Hawaii setting, but I don't think I ever knew they had detention centers there, too.

    1. It was really eye-opening. They definitely had internment camps. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. I've always been curious about how the Japanese people were treated shortly after Pearl Harbor. I will add this to my TBR because Lana sounds like an incredibly selfless person to be admired.

    1. It was really an interesting story--very eye opening! I love Hawaii, so it was great to learn about the history and how the island and its people were impacted during WWII. Thanks for visiting, Joy!


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