Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Fishing in Maui by Isa Pearl Ritchie. It’s a story about family and the way we can be sat next to each other, and yet a thousand miles away from each other at the same time.
About the Author
Isa 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 PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. She is passionate about food, wellbeing and social justice.
Follow @IsaPearlRitchie on Twitter, on Facebook on Instagram, Visit isaritchie.com
Buy Fishing for Maui
About the book
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?Review
I’m not sure whether the point of this story was to present each character, to give them a voice and opinion on a multitude of topics, in an attempt to show the reader how different we can be, even in the confines of our own family structure or just to have the opportunity to voice an opinion.
An opinion on everything you can think of, from religion, faith, abortion, abnormal cervical cell treatment, health systems in foreign countries, culture, myths, identity, mental health, veganism, mass animal farming, bullying, morality, sexuality, racism, colorism or shadeism, vegetarianism and many more. It’s a lot, it eclipses any intention of a story, especially about Michael and his mental health issues.
I would like to have seen more depth when it came to Michael, the why, the tailspin and the recovery. There are primary causes of psychotic symptoms, but psychosis can also be secondary to other disorders and diseases (Psychiatric disorders, neurological illnesses and mental health disorders), including B12 deficiency. Everyone is still circling their own orbit, which is indicative of how the family members deal with each other, and the reason they miss it when other family members need support.
Elena’s blog plays a huge role in her life and the story. It is her way of having a voice in the world and maintaining independence, whereas her husband believes it is the way the little wife escapes the real world. Among her blog-posts and reader commentary are topics such as prenatal healthcare and testing which are deemed ‘invasive testing on the off-chance I’d abort an ‘imperfect’ child’ and is part of the anti-abortion thought process of one character for instance. The same one who sees anti-stretch mark oils (petrochemicals) as bad news, so it’s advantageous that the character has included a recipe and instructions on how to make homemade lavender skin balm.
Is it a story or is it a way to tell readers your opinion in an attempt to engage in a narrative or change they way the perceive certain situations? If it’s the latter then there is no need for a fictional family.
Evie’s story is about having to deal with the diagnosis of abnormal cervical cells (CIN3) and natural regression after lifestyle changes, such as diet and eliminating smoking. I think it is fair to say that adapting a healthier lifestyle will be beneficial to anyone who chooses to do so, and in doing so a person can strengthen their immune system and reduce the risk of many diseases. There is a growing voice for the more holistic approach in this area, but here is the thing, regardless of a wake-up call and lifestyle changes not all CIN2 or CIN3 lesions will progress to cervical cancer, which means there may be some misconception about what causes the regression or if the results remain the same after a period of waiting.
I would bear that in mind before recommending that women of all ages think about waiting for treatment, refusing standard health practices, because one of them might just be one of the percentage that falls into ‘the evolves into cancer cell’ categories. Do your own research, get advice from an medical expert and get a second, third or fourth opinion before making a decision based alternative methods. Saying that, living a more healthy and yet balanced lifestyle is never a bad choice for your body in the long run.
Lastly there is the home-birthing and Elena, the cuckolded wife and avid blogger. Let me just say that I think every woman should give birth in the way that makes them feel most comfortable and is safe for both baby and mother. In the book the opinion gives off an air of borderline birth-shaming, which is probably due to personal experiences and own frame of reference. Not every woman can deal with birth with just a hot wet towel on their back. Some women experience little or no pain, others experience unimaginable pain. Each woman has a different pain threshold and has a different body with individual health issues. Also, while there might be a correlation between mode of delivery and subsequent post-partum depression there are also things like the mother’s age, number of delivery, acceptance, sex, education, maternal depression and previous medical history of depression which have to be taken into consideration.
Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth – 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. (WHO) Across the U.S., infant mortality rates for full-term babies were 50 percent to 200 percent higher than in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, the study found. Birth defects, or congenital malformations, accounted for 31 percent of U.S. infant deaths during the study. So-called perinatal complications, or medical problems babies developed shortly before or after birth, accounted for another 13 percent of fatalities. (Reuters)
Those are just a few statistics I would offer up as a reason to take all options into consideration, even giving birth at home if mother and baby are healthy. There are plenty of birthing houses that sway away from the sterile medical birth, and the majority of hospitals have birthing pools and special birthing rooms that try look and feel like a home environment.
I think Ritchie has a lot to say and so do her characters, in this case it’s to the detriment of a storyline that never quite gets to unfold, because everyone is trying to tell the reader something. If you took all the characters out of Fishing for Maui and just let the person who wants to engage with the world have a dialogue with the reader throughout the book – you would have a completely different read. A non-fictional one, but a book readers would still want to engage with, regardless of whether it is to agree or disagree with the opinions and information Ritchie brings to the table.
If a book creates a reaction in a reader then the author has done their job. Mine may be different to others, but it is a reaction nonetheless. It’s a story about family and the way we can be sat next to each other, and yet a thousand miles away from each other at the same time.
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Publisher: Te Rā Aroha Press (4 July 2018)
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