Book Review: Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me

December 11, 2008


Update – 12/17/08: Kekoa Enomoto wrote a very cogent review of Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me for the Maui News. Additionally, the Hawaiian language newscast ‘Aha‘i ‘Ōlelo Ola (CBS affiliate KGMB-TV) covered the launch of this debut novel.

In the voice of darkness, birds stirred with anticipation. The approaching daylight separated sky from earth. By the time the first rays of the sun reached the top of the Ko‘olau Mountains, the birds were already in full chorus, celebrating the arrival of a new day.

On the leeward coast of O‘ahu, a Hawaiian woman, ageless as the ocean, stood in the mystery, ready to carry out her role in the morning ceremony. Water lapped as the tide rose. Into the darkness, facing the intense calm of the water, she began to chant. The primal sound of her voice was filled with the power of those who came before her. Her song carried out to sea.

So begins award-winning filmmaker Lurline McGregor’s first novel, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me.

Turning her cinematic eye to a story that inherently resonates with so many of us, McGregor delves into what makes a native person native. Expanding upon the question of nature versus nurture, she tells the tale of a woman – Native Hawaiian by birth, western by upbringing – who is forced to confront the dichotomy of her indigenous past with the realities of the 21st century.

book-coverWithin this riveting story we follow the protagonist Moana Kawelo on her quest to reconnect with her kū‘auhau (heritage) and understand what it means to be a Native Hawaiian in the modern world.

The exploration of cultural consciousness in Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me has received enthusiastic reviews from around the native world. The Chairman of the Board of the national Native Arts and Culture Foundation, Walter Echo-Hawk, raved, “Wow! What a moving story about the spiritual side of Native life in modern-day Hawai’i.”

potiki“It is an intriguing story of modern Hawai‘i, its legacies and therefore its concerns,” shared Patricia Grace, Māori author and winner of the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature. “It is a story contextualized by the connectedness between generations, land, culture and spiritual guardianship – all drawn together in a ‘now’ time.”

Author Lurline McGregor continued, “Just as the movie Whale Rider was able to present an authentic Māori experience while speaking to a broader global audience, our Hawaiian stories can also be used to inspire people worldwide.”


Daviana McGregor at the launch of Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me

At the book’s launch party, Muscogee poet and author Joy Harjo eloquently reflected on the power of the native voice presented in Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me. “We are all indigenous peoples, we can all trace our lineages to a time when our ancestors listened to the earth.” Native Hawaiian activist and author Davianna McGregor (and Lurline’s cousin) continued, “Lurline gives us a story that articulates the past and the present – land, repatriation, and spirit are forged together to create an engrossing tale of modern and ancient Hawai‘i.”

Lurline McGregor autographs copies of her new book, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me

Lurline McGregor signs copies of her new book

Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me is published by Kamehameha Publishing. For more information, click here.


  1. thanks for the recommendation. Picked up a copy and couldn’t put it down. Great storytelling

  2. Hoomaikai ana – kulia i ka moolelo

  3. Where can I get a copy of the book?

  4. I’ve been a fan of Lurline McGregor for a long time – really looking forward to reading her book. Do you know if she’s going to be doing any more film work

  5. Aloha e Amy,
    If you’re on O‘ahu, you can pick it up at any number of independent bookstores like Na Mea and Beautiful Things in Ward Warehouse. If you’re not here, you can get it through Amazon.com (http://tinyurl.com/5rx276). Or better yet, go into your local Border’s, Costco or other large chain store and ask them to start carrying it.

  6. Aloha e Jujuboy,
    If we’re lucky, Between the Deep Blue Sea will be made into a movie. One of the things we learned at the launch was that the book actually began its life as a screenplay.

  7. Wow, to have Patricia Grace give a review is pretty amazing. She’s such a great writer.

  8. Thanks, I just finished reading it. I agree with IrishRalph. I couldn’t put it down. I guess we all know what everyone’s getting for Christmas!

  9. I only read this book cause you recommend it. I was surprised how much it sucked me in. It’s really a good book. thanks for telling us about it

  10. I went to Borders and they didn’t know about the book. I told them they should carry. Na Mea has it. I bought a couple copies -two for my sisters on the mainland one for me. I read it all at once and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

  11. This book isn’t just for native peoples, it’s message is universal. Our native voices and lessons need to be heard by the larger society.
    Jo Thunder, Ojibwe

  12. Sitting in the Sheraton Waikiki reading this book. Really enjoying it. Thanks for the recommendation

  13. Aloha Lurline…found you on the net…next at Border’s. Happy New Year!

  14. […] be one of the books I’ll read this year. Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me: Reviews 1, 2, 3, […]

  15. Fantastic site – keep it up!

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