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Breadfruit    by CÚlestine Hitiura Vaite order for
by CÚlestine Hitiura Vaite
Order:  USA  Can
Back Bay, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

'Materena likes movies about love.' So begins Breadfruit, a novel about love and marriage, men and women, Materena and Pito. After twelve years of living together, and three children, Materena and Pito are still not married. This is no big deal for Materena until the night when Pito arrives home drunk and asks her to marry him. Materena says okay, then wonders whether he will remember the proposal after he wakes up the next morning all sobered up. Not only does he not mention it again, he makes disparaging remarks about marriage whenever the subject comes up. Materena makes tentative wedding plans, but never tells anyone whose wedding she's planning. She's just not sure it's going to happen.

The book revolves around the potential wedding, as Materena visits various cousins, making plans. There are many delightful encounters with her numerous cousins and friends, with little vignettes about them and their problems. We learn about why her cousin, Giselle has named her first baby Isidore Louis Junior, a name she doesn't really like. Materena visits Mama Teta, a professional wedding car driver, to find out what renting a wedding car will cost, and we hear the story about how Mama Teta got her driver's license even though her driving is a little erratic. Materena's godmother, Imelda, makes an appearance with a generous offer to pay for her wedding, if and when it occurs. All of these stories and more provide a colorful and enjoyable view of life in modern Tahiti.

Reading Breadfruit is like a visit to Tahiti, but even better, a visit where you stay with a good friend, Materena, and meet lots of her family members. This second novel by Celestine Vaite, herself a native Tahitian, is fun to read and shows that love and marriage are really not that different in Tahiti than they are in the rest of the world.

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