This story is a celebration of Samoan mythology, the power of the natural world and of women. The Samoan setting is a character in its own right and links modern Samoa to its mythological past. The three main human characters all have supernatural powers because of their connection to the natural world and its spirit guardians. This book would be great to study at secondary level because of the many themes that can be teased out of it and related to the struggles that modern Samoa faces. The friendship and romantic relationships at the heart of the story and the graphically described physical encounters would be appealing to adolescents and encourage them to read further.
On one level, the book is a romance, with two men, Marc and Keahi fighting over a woman, Teuila. There are plenty of passionate moments, with the natural world mirroring the emotions of the main characters with earthquakes, lightning and “whirlwind tempests''. Teuila, who is initially taken in by Marc’s charms, gradually realises what a danger he is not only to her country, but also to herself. However, unlike a typical romance, where the preferred suiter comes to the heroine’s aid and they both live happily ever after, this story has a larger focus. Women’s right to self-determination is portrayed not only by the powerful spirit women, but also by Teuila, who is furious with Keahi’s suffocating efforts to protect her. While she does love him and does not completely reject him, she chooses an independent life.
Title: Fire's Caress: A Telesa World Novel
Author:Lani Wendt Young
Publisher: OneTree House
Age Range: Young Adult
Advisory warnings: Violence and sex are important to the story and the issue of child abuse is also included.
Reviewer: Carola Crawford, English teacher, Karanga Mai Young Parents’ College
How are you recommending this book? Highly Recommended
Opening sentence: Marc Gold was hiking up a mountain on an island in the Pacific.
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