I’m so, so excited to have Malulani Moreno on the site today to reveal the cover of his debut, Hawai‘i-set contemporary YA An Island Without You, which releases from Abrams Books on January 4, 2022! Here’s the story:
When Keoni’s longtime bully Spencer disappears, he’s ecstatic: Life as a sixteen-year-old gay outcast in Wahiawā, Hawai‘i just got a lot easier. But Keoni can’t seem to escape Spencer’s memory—there are missing posters everywhere, his best friend is spearheading a fundraiser, and some people think that Spencer didn’t actually run away.
Aaron didn’t know what to expect when his dad uprooted them after his mom’s death, but it wasn’t that the first person he’d connect with in their new town would go missing. Still reeling from the loss, Aaron tries to make friends, but that’s hard with his selective mutism and the visions he’s having about Spencer.
When their lives collide, Keoni and Aaron try to find the truth of what happened to Spencer. And as they draw closer to the truth, they also grow closer to each other.
And here’s the lovely, tranquil cover of An Island Without You, illustrated by Andi Porretta and designed by Hana Anouk Nakamura!
And here’s a message from the author himself!
Hawaiʻi is my home. Or as we say in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, our native tongue, it is my kulāiwi, the place of my ancestors’ bones. I am so excited to present to you the cover for my novel, An Island Without You, which is as much about my main characters, Keoni and Aaron, as it is about my native homeland.
Keoni is a lot like teenage me. A Native Hawaiian, or Kanaka Maoli, growing up in a place colonized by Americans, feeling more of a connection with the Western world than with his own culture. He struggles at school because of the taunts and bullying of his childhood tormentor, Spencer. And all he really wants is deep connection and friendship. Keoni is a character I needed growing up, and I’m elated that Native Hawaiian keiki and LGBTQ+ teens will get to see themselves in the pages of a book.
Aaron, too, carries similarities to my younger self. He recently moved to a new town on the island of Oʻahu. All he wants is to meet a friend, but that’s difficult for him since he’s a little socially awkward, struggling with a condition called Selective Mutism. He meets someone, though, a closeted high school athlete by the name of Spencer, who he thinks could end up being more than a friend.
Keoni and Aaron’s lives collide when Spencer — the boy they have in common — turns up missing. I’ll leave the rest for you to discover on your own when the book launches in January 2022.
For now, a hui hou. Until we meet again.