Fishing for Maui by Isa Pearl Ritchie
Fishing for Maui is a distinctly New Zealand novel that follows a family in crisis. Val is a GP, raising a family of four on her own after a marriage breakdown. Her life is one of responsibility and worry – she worries about her children, and she worries about her patients.
Elena, her grown-up daughter, is expecting her first baby with her partner Malcolm. But Elena is so obsessed with the healthy food blog that she writes and her pregnancy she has no time for Malcolm anymore. Malcolm is a professor who teaches ethics at the local university, but he is increasingly frustrated by the lack of intimacy and attention from Elena, and before long he is contemplating things he shouldn’t with a student.
Eldest son, Michael is a university student and enjoys hanging out with his mates, surfing and sending time with his vegan girlfriend, Evie. He is interested in exploring his Maori heritage, while Evie has strong opinions about animal welfare and not eating animal products.
Younger son, John is struggling at high school and seems willing to alienate everyone in the family with his angry behaviour.
Rosa is only eight years old and is often lost in her own fantasy world. But at eight, she knows something is not right. It takes a major crisis for the rest of the family to take notice, but even then, will it be too late?
The major themes that run through this novel are about food and the differing opinions on what is healthy to eat, and the welfare of animals. It’s also a story about mental illness. It’s also a story about identity and heritage. Mainly it’s a compelling story of whanau, and just how diverse and complicated a family can be. Fishing for Maui is Isa Pearl Ritchie’s second novel, and she’s created a book with plenty to think about.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Te Rā Aroha Press, RRP $34.99