by Isa Pearl Ritchie
A novel about food, whānau, and mental illness.
Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep – just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father, and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy and her blog she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making. Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect with his Māori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but she’s the only one who can tell something’s not right. Crisis has the power to bring this family together, but will it be too late?
"An accomplished story of a family in crisis - Ritchie's great skill is her ability to conjure the inner lives if her characters. Fishing For Maui is a compassionate meditation on what it means to be well". - Sarah Jane Barnett
The less they know the better it is for them. They sit on the fence between morality and legality, knowing as well as we do that the two concepts can be worlds apart.
It never made sense to me, this story. But I suppose myths don’t have to make sense – gods that became the world, why not? It’s about as likely as one very strict God who created everything in six days and then had a nap.
I don’t say any of what I’m actually thinking to her, because she doesn’t really want to listen. Most people don’t want to listen they just want to be heard.
That’s the thing with relationships; there are always two sides. No one’s ever innocent.
I struggled valiantly with this book, it was not an easy read and required considerable mental expenditure, so know going in that this is not a book to pick up for a relaxing or leisurely perusal. I grappled with the frequent use of unfamiliar words that were deployed without translation, and while I understood, respected, and appreciated why they were utilized and important to the story, it became so tedious to this non-native speaker that I gave up using the translator app. But, don’t get me wrong; this was not a poorly written or unpleasant book, quite the opposite. The narrative contained shimmers of brilliance with keenly insightful threads woven into uncommon and vividly detailed and emotive scenarios. The storylines were profoundly real and tackled a plethora of heavy hitting real-life issues faced by a completely dysfunctional family populated with hugely unlikable and extremely exasperating characters. This is the type of obnoxiously self-involved and rigidly judgmental family that felt uncomfortably familiar and of the ilk that any sane person would move far far away from to avoid; I should know, I highly recommend that technique as the best method for escape.
Isa Pearl Ritchie is a Wellington-based writer. She grew up as a Pākehā child in a bicultural family and Māori was her first written language. She has completed a Ph.D. on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. She is passionate about food, wellbeing and social justice.
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