Kawai Strong Washburn
In 1994 Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls off the side of a cruise ship. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone aboard fears for the worst. But Nainoa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.
Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugar-cane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawai'ian gods—a belief that appears validated when he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic in gritty Oregon neighborhoods, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north, in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-addicted younger sister Kaui navigates unforgiving academic and wilderness landscapes to forge her independence from the family’s legacy. When supernatural events revisit their home in Hawai’i—with tragic consequences—they're all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and what it takes to survive.
A depiction of working-class native life in the island paradise of the American imagination, Sharks in the Time of Saviors is an arresting meditation on family, exile, and the devastating search for salvation that examines what it means to be both of a place and a stranger within it.