In the December issue of The Midwest Review, Diana Donovan had a very enthusiastic response:
“Readers seeking a historical story integrating a passion for art and music, a coming of age account, and the saga of a young woman whose unusual flair for singing opera flourishes, despite an impoverished background in Hawaii, will find Aloha, Mozart the perfect pick. It combines one woman’s personal drive with the rising cultural and political powers of 1960s Austria to create a powerful protagonist whose personal growth mirrors the political surges of her times.
“Maile Manoa exhibits her inherent abilities at an early age, but is powerless to do much about them. In sixth grade she realizes her calling is to sing opera; an interest unheard of – and unsupported – in her community; so she sings other genres with her amazing voice and saves her pennies to someday achieve her true dream.
“What she doesn’t know is that this passion will lead her away from her beloved homeland to other worlds, causing financial and emotional hardship for her family. Ultimately she experiences a series of worldly encounters that challenge her heritage, her morals and ethics, and her goals.
The story opens with a bang, hooking the reader with a poetic and enchanting description that is a prelude to the tone and approach permeating Aloha, Mozart: “Maile Manoa’s singing came from the ocean, people said, from the mountains, from flowers….Some claimed that dogs and horses stopped eating to listen to her, chickens in the yard, even sharks out beyond the reef….but she didn’t consider herself special. Singing was simply something she did.”
“As Maile is introduced to the culture and worlds of opera and European culture, she finds her life transformed, her voice finely honed, and her beliefs and heritage challenged. Would she do anything to achieve her goals? What happens when romance enters the picture, complicated by rising political tensions, and two very different choices and opportunities, each with the power to change her life?
“Maile’s ever-changing world is one of eye-opening wonder, passion, and evolving transformations that keep her options open and fluid. Her journey involves unbelievable sacrifices, heartbreak, and choices that speak of the ongoing resonance and meaning of music in her life.”