Chantal T. Spitz’s Island of Shattered Dreams was, at the time of its original publication, the first of its kind. The novel is from an indigenous Tahitian writer about French Polynesia. It follows three generations of a single family and their struggles with finding themselves and loving the people they love. Each character that the story follows, from the three generations, are dealing with complex ideas of cultural identity, love, multi-generational influences, and political stances. Each one must face their problems and find their own path in this world.
Set in French Polynesia on the edge of nuclear testing, Spitz is able to mesh love and historical events into a tension filled story that is not only deeply moving, but also very lyrical. Each of the characters has moments of poetic monologue when they feel strong emotions; this is a very real part of Pacific Island cultures and their oral traditions.
As I read on and flip through the pages after finishing the book, I can’t help but love this book more and more. It had a very strong and direct message about the political climate at the time the story is set in, but also shows just how much the Tahitian people are still affected today. I will say the only part of the story that I drew issue with is that love stories. All, but one of them ends in disaster. The one relationship that survives is almost utopic and I feel that being a perfect relationship is unrealistic.
That being said, this is a fantastic book, that dives into several viewpoints of colonized Pacific Islands and their native peoples. Let me know how you felt about the book if you have read it and if there are any books like it I should be checking out!