This act of writing opened up other secret doors inside me. Writing is an act of inquiry. It requires curiosity and an inclination to pursue answers.
-Loreen Lilyn Lee
On the cover is little three-year-old Loreen, dressed in a ti leaf skirt made by her mother; leis around her head, neck, and wrist. Her arms are in a Hula dance position. She is a pretty girl. Does she know? Does she feel loved? Everyone has a story. In The Lava Never Sleeps: A Honolulu Memoir, Loreen Lilyn Lee tells hers.
Loreen Lilyn Lee is Chinese American, born in Honolulu, T.H. (Territory of Hawai’i), during the first few years of the baby boom. Her father, who was born in China, was steeped in the Chinese tradition of the day and ruled his wife and seven children – patriarchy that actually spans the globe. However, the strictness of his particular actions that excluded affection, praise, and equitable education for his daughters, in comparison to his sons, began Loreen’s accumulation of wounds and scars. Attention and protection were not there.
In 2006, Tarana Burke coined the phrase “Me Too,” forty-seven years after ten-year-old Loreen Lilyn Lee was raped. Because of the details and circumstances, no one would know until years later when Loreen was able to process what had happened to her. Me Too wasn’t available to help express her torment, but nevertheless, she persisted.
Joy did not escape Loreen, as she was determined to have meaningful relationships beyond what her dysfunctional family lacked. The road was bumpy, but periods of smoothness seeped its way into employment, writing groups, and spiritual communities – fulfillment that kept Loreen going. Though much of her adult life was lived in other states, Loreen, who is Hawaiian at heart, includes a cultural and geographic journey in The Lava Never Sleeps. She is a “local girl.” Her habits, food, and lingo are a blend of Chinese and Hawaiian, but Loreen will not say she’s Hawaiian, which is her decision to respect indigenous people and their history.
Readers, reviewers, and authors who have endorsed The Lava Never Sleeps appreciate the depth of how Loreen Lilyn Lee’s story is told, in prose that is straightforward and compelling. Willow Books awarded her a Grand Prize for Literature. Loreen has also received fellowships from Hedgebrook and the Jack Straw Writers Program.
A bonus to The Lava Never Sleeps is on Loreen’s website. Her blog posts are filled with photos and a diverse selection of topics that range from support for women, to book and movie reviews, to world issues. Loreen welcomes your comments on her blog posts and notes via her contact page.
Loreen, I love the green of nature that fills this postcard! Thank you for choosing and sending it for my collection. It’s a perfect complement to your photo on the cover of The Lava Never Sleeps.