6 Books to Champion Maui Authors and Stories

Read these stories of Maui to find comfort in the aftermath of the Lahaina wildfires and honor the island culture.


Our dear friends and community in Lahaina, Maui, recently suffered a devastating fire more destructive than any weather event in the state’s history. While the aftermath of this disaster continues to unfold, people in Hawai‘i, across the nation and around the world have rallied together to raise much-needed funds for Maui relief efforts in the form of fundraisers, auctions, philanthropic events and direct donations made to Lahaina families.


In times as heartbreaking as these, words can fail even the most talented wordsmiths. Yet words, and the stories in which we find them, can also have the power to rise like action, affording readers the space to think, feel and imagine amidst their collective sorrow. If you’ve already donated to support Maui’s recovery but are still feeling powerless, we invite you to find solace in books written by authors from or based on Maui, along with works written with a love for Maui in mind.


Here are some of our favorite books that champion Maui authors and Maui stories. We hope you’ll give them a read.


SEE ALSO: Maui Wildfires: How to Support Our Maui Neighbors From O‘ahu


Ask The Brindled Ask the Brindled by Noʻu Revilla

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Ask the Brindled

by No‘u Revilla

Winner of the esteemed National Poetry Series, No‘u Revilla is an ‘ōiwi poet from Wai‘ehu on the island of Maui. Her collection Ask the Brindled is an astonishing work of lyricism replete with poems that sink into your gut and bleed the pages red. Revilla tackles issues of Hawaiian sovereignty, queer love and queer grief, ‘ōiwi mythology and the resounding resilience of the Hawaiian people, all in poetic language that grabs a hold of you and refuses to let go. Ask the Brindled is an absolute triumph.


SEE ALSO: 5 LGBTQIA+ Books to Celebrate Pride Month


Honu 5690 by Shaowei Liu

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Honu 5690

Written and illustrated by Shaowei Liu

For our keiki friends, we love recommending Honu 5690, the heartwarming and engaging story of one mother honu’s journey from the French Frigate Shoals to a busy beach in Lahaina, Maui. Written and illustrated by Lahaina writer Shaowei Liu and inspired by the green sea turtle preservation program, Honu 5690’s migration becomes a repeated event over the course of 14 years, during which the “Maui girl” returns to Lahaina every few years to lay her eggs. Keiki will love the sweet and inspiring tale, and parents will enjoy sharing the collection of honu facts that ends this wonderful book.



Aina Hanau by Brandy Nālani McDougall

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‘Āina Hānau / Birth Land

by Brandy Nālani McDougall

This exceptional collection of poems comes from kanaka ‘ōiwi Hawai‘i State Poet Laureate Brandy Nālani McDougall. Originally from A‘apueo, Maui, McDougall examines the concept of ‘āina hānau, or the land of one’s birth, to investigate how we form intimate connections with humans and with the land. Her poems travel Hawai‘i’s mountains and oceans, its skies and land, to cultivate an undying love for her culture and an indignation over all that Hawaiians have lost through centuries of settler colonialism. At the heart of the collection is a profound love for her daughters, her people and her ‘āina hānau.



Sakamoto's Swim Club by Julie Abery and Chris Sasaki

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Sakamoto’s Swim Club

Written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki

Another delightful picture book inspired by a historic Maui tale is Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory. This book tells the story of Maui children cooling off in irrigation ditches near the sugar plantations and the local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto who believed in their swimming capabilities. Through delightful illustrations and rhyming text, the book celebrates the Maui swimmers’ strength and success as they see the impossible dream of an Olympic gold medal come true. Perfect for reading aloud while shedding light on a little-known Maui story.



Westlake Edited by Mei-Li M. Siy and Richard Hamasaki

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Westlake: Poems by Wayne Kaumuali‘i Westlake

Edited by Mei-Li M. Siy and Richard Hamasaki

The late Wayne Kaumuali‘i Westlake penned an impressive body of work in his too brief life, all of which is catalogued in his collective book Westlake. Born on Maui, Westlake made his name in the poetry community weaving his Hawaiian heritage with Ch’an Buddhist and Taoist studies and Japanese haiku forms to create a revolutionary approach to poetry. Comprised of nearly 200 poems, many of which were previously unpublished, Westlake feels like peering into the mind of a thoughtful and creative genius whose legacy both in Hawai‘i and in the wider literary community is indelible.



Night Fisher and No One Else by R. Kikuo Johnson

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Night Fisher

by R. Kikuo Johnson

First published in 2005, the singular graphic novel Night Fisher by R. Kikuo Johnson celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a beautiful new hardcover edition of which we simply can’t get enough. Night Fisher is a feat of both visual artistry and brilliant storytelling, depicting the complicated friendship of Maui high schoolers Loren and Shane as they navigate the world of petty crime. Johnson, a Maui author, writes in the book’s afterword that he set out to honor Maui by depicting the island he recognized. The result is a compelling and unsentimental portrayal of both Maui and young adulthood that enthralls readers till the final panel.


PS: If you enjoy Night Fisher, be sure to check out his 2021 graphic novel No One Else.