This faraway, pre-contact story begins with Helkena, a young, still untattooed girl enduring a typhoon crashing over the only island she has ever known. Her home is Wōtto, one of the dry, windswept atolls of the northern Marshall Islands. The newborn infant Ḷainjin has just been entrusted to her care by his mother, who has sailed her fleet of proas into the open ocean to save them from certain destruction.
Helkena, having barely survived the storm, must now travel to Naṃdik, a wet atoll in the southern rain belt of the Rālik Chain. As Ḷainjin’s surrogate mother, she will sail with the infant by outrigger canoe in the company of his maternal grandfathers. These kind men had recently helped the Wōtto Islanders overcome the terrible drought that typically follows a typhoon. With the trade-wind season approaching, it’s soon time to complete their voyage. The grandfathers begin teaching Helkena the traditional navigational arts along the way.
Her goal is to get her tattoos on Naṃdik and, in time, to find a man there to take home to Wōtto. She will need help to manage her matrilineally inherited lands, and she is related to most men in that small, dry world. But will she entice a man from the lush south to her barren desert island?
Far from being a simple story, this colorful, romantic tale presents a surprising background to the lovemaking culture of the Marshall Islands. It also reveals the early years of young Ḷainjin, the hero of the Legends of Ḷainjin historical literary fiction series.
Publisher: Iguana Books
Pub Date: 08/2022
Size: 9.00h x 6.00w x 0.31d