Kahana - The Untold Stories

Based on True Events

Young Adult - Coming of Age
224 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ann has shown her expertise in education, writing, producing and directing TV shows, theater productions and fundraising events. She was a certified Florida teacher for Elementary through High School students. She received a Recognition Award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. She also received an Honorary Author Award from the Beverly Hills Theater Guild for her play, "A Forgotten Treasure."
She produced and wrote 60 episodes of the popular cable TV series, "Tampa Bay Connection." The TV series aired for 4 years on Vision Cable, Vision Cable, Time Warner, Paragon,Miami Cable Tap, ASCAN in Atlanta, and PAC 8 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. . She received 9 Best 1st place awards in the categories of Documentary, Public Affairs, Entertainment and Performing Arts.
After Tampa Bay Connection, Ann produced and wrote another 1st place cable award winning TV series, Teens Bay Area Connection, that aired 4 years at Time Warner. She received eight 1st place awards in the categories of Youth, Performing Arts and Public Affairs/Current Events. Both of these TV series focused on entertainment combined with education.
She also did a series of short episodes on Expert Village, that began airing in 2008 and is still airing. . Her lessons provide methods for parents to teach their children how to read with games, reading and thinking aloud. The episodes have 2.4k, 41,000 and 18k views.
She also was the Director for Portsmouth’s City Theater; Largo’s “Sneaker Theater” and a Junior Welfare Grant- for “Why Do Little Children Sing.”

    Book Review

Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers' Favorite

Kahana - The Untold Stories by Ann Kennedy is an amazing piece of literary fiction written in the form of the autobiography of Kim Kahana. Young Kim is staying with his teacher's family while Kim's father is at sea as the chef for the Admiral of the Coast Guard. The story begins with Kim and some other boys racing to the top of a mountain. They reach the summit just as the Japanese are attacking Pearl Harbor. Martial law is declared and the islanders' lives are uprooted. All of Hawaii's natives are fingerprinted, processed and put on curfew. After one failed attempt, it takes 4 years of mastering martial arts and the end of WWII for Kim to sneak aboard a ship leaving for San Francisco. From there he makes his way to his uncle who lives in New York City.

Ms. Kennedy does an outstanding job of telling Kim's story of jumping on trains, escaping homes for juvenile delinquents, and meeting a host of people that help him to build his character. When the Korean War breaks out and Kim is drafted, the author knows enough about the airborne rangers to vividly describe how he is promoted to sergeant. The author's writing style was spot on as she described the horrors of war and the grenade that nearly ended his life. With Kim blinded and shattered, she describes the ex-figure skater that helps him develop his other senses. From there he begins traveling across the country again and falls in love with motorcycles, choppers, and the world of stuntmen in the movies.

Along with all of his adventures is Kim Kahana's relentless refusal to let his disabilities stop him. He is an inspiration of what true courage is all about. Our hero is a daredevil and legendary stuntman for some of the most famous actors in Hollywood. Ann Kennedy's Kahana - The Untold Stories comes complete with some photos from our hero's personal collection. As soon as I began reading this book, it was almost impossible to put down. When I finally got to the end, parting was such sweet sorrow. All I could say was, "Wow!"

K.C. Finn

Kahana – The Untold Stories is a dramatic coming of age story penned by author Ann Kennedy, and based on true life events. The basis of the tale comes from the incredible life story of war hero and Hollywood stuntman Kim Kahana, whose start in life as a child and young adult was filled with turmoil and pain. We travel with Kim from Hawaii and its cultural teachings when the events of World War Two push him into a whole new life he never expected. From harrowing false accusations, struggles to survive and all-out war later in life, Kim Kahana maintains an inspirational strength that comes through on every page.

It’s clear from the start that author Ann Kennedy is incredibly inspired by the life events of Kim Kahana and the sensei-like teachings he imparted later in life based on those experiences. Kennedy puts passion into every page of her work, illustrating each scene beautifully to give the full context and physical experience of what Kim could have been feeling at the time. The narrative and fictionalized nature of the piece suits the intended YA audience very well, bringing the circumstances to life with emotive writing and sharp dialogue that highlights the harsh nature of growing up in the post-war period. The central messages of courage and determination, will-power and self-belief, no matter what, are perfect inspirations to take from a truly incredible tale, and overall I’d definitely recommend Kahana – The Untold Stories for all teen readers seeking real-life heroes.

Rabia Tanveer

Kahana - The Untold Stories: Based on True Events by Ann Kennedy is the story of the legendary stuntman Kim Kahana who literally rose from the ashes and grew up to have his own stunt school, production company, and many black belts in multiple styles of martial arts. His story begins as he tries to live as an ordinary youth in Hawaii. Kahana is of American/Japanese descent, making him the odd one out right from the beginning. His life was pretty peaceful until World War II happened and his life went down a hill that never seemed to end. However, that didn’t stop him; he knew that he had to stand on his own two feet and make something out of his life. And there began his journey of self-discovery, learning, and understanding that as long as he landed on his two feet, he could do it all.

Kahana is written in the style of a biography which makes the message of the story sit very firmly right in your heart. You can connect with Kim Kahana, experience his pain, struggle and his determination to make something bigger and better of his life. I knew of Kahana as the stuntman who broke more than 60 bones in his body during his career as a stuntman and after reading this novel, I have a newfound appreciation for all the hard work he put into his career. His story is incredibly inspirational and encouraging. I enjoyed reading how hard-headed and overconfident he had to become to make a name for himself in Hollywood and have the people who laughed at him say his name with pride. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I wish it was longer. Simply inspirational and amazing.

U.S Review, Zainos and A. Kennedy

Excerpt from US REVIEW- Recommended by Jonah Meyer
Kennedy has written an intensely entertaining biography of a kid who once harvested the fields in his native Hawaii and goes on to become a successful actor, stuntman, and film martial-artist. Her colorful stories of Kahana create an action-packed page-turner. Older children, teens, and adults alike will find this to be an original read, full of heroism, true grit, and love interests, all while the protagonist never forgets his pre-WWII Hawaiian-village roots.

Comments by Theresa L Zaino Theatrical Talent Agent
From his childhood in Hawaii during the time of Pearl Harbor to be coming a Living Legend as a Hollywood Stuntman, this is an extraordinary story of how one man's journey exceeds more than any one person could accomplish in three lifetimes.

Review by Angela Kennedy
Kahana is tale that sets across the big American skies and follows the adventures of a young boy who runs away and works a variety of exciting jobs that culminate in a life as a Hollywood stuntman. Along his way to success, he has plenty of adventures set primarily during a more nostalgic time beginning at the World Word II era. It is certainly a coming of age story about a determined and persistent young orphan of his own circumstance. This book is driven by a series of essay-like string of adventures that teach self-reliance and pursing your own dreams in an age where the actualization of personal hopes is based on a fortunate accident of situations rather than today’s forced requirements often attached to an ivy league education, nepotism or obligatory social media presence.
Kahana is a personalized story about grabbing the American dream by its throat, in the most unconventional methods imagined. Kahana, a child martial artist, does not become a stuntman/fire dancing daredevil from just measured training or from strategic Hollywood polite politics. His gritty life is fueled by chance and his own audacity to overcome danger with few complaints.
This story in its simplicity, does not shy away from the Euro-centric attitudes that were still very common during the Post-World War II era regarding Hawaiian/Japanese Americans. Kahana shows an authentic grit of the Great Generation that the churning wheel of humanity is kept in motion not by a lot of self-examination but rather by deed alone.
Kahana becomes a war hero after surviving one of the most horrific “life and death” war scenarios imaged. Kahana is impressive, as he worked with the greatest Hollywood cowboys and fire-dancers in the world. Kahana’s is a quiet legend who through his own fury and reckless precision carve out an amazing existence that few any can ever imagine beyond their own dreams while tucked away in the safety of their own bed. The most understated theme is hope and possibility. Kahana never shared his fears within his own story, because he was too busy fighting against all odds. Maybe we all could do less talking and more doing.

Danny Zaino

Comments by Danny T. Zaino- Actor, TV/Radio Host/Fight Choreographer
A must read for the entertainment buff who loves the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Steve Caverno

Here are some more of our reviews. Some of the reviews or comments are excerpts if Review/Comments are over 5,000 words.
1. STEVE CAVERNO-Kim Kahana is a man of action. He never accepted his circumstances. He changed them. The book opens in 1941 shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The opening chapters explore native Hawaiian culture and the history before Hawaii was a US state. Kim’s simple life of ritual and martial arts was interrupted by military occupation and curfews. Still, he formed bonds with the soldiers and was inspired by their tales from the mainland. In 1945, after the end of World War II, Kim snuck on board a cruise ship and embarked for a new adventure in California.
The book is a collection of fast paced episodes, each focusing on a formative experience in Kahana’s life. The kindness and cruelty of strangers plays a hand in Kahana’s most pivotal life choices. Through some of his many journeys, this boy quickly becomes a man under the better or worse influence of road-hungry bilkers, smooth-talking criminals and inspirational latin artists. Although Kahana often runs from his Island beginnings, the past keeps bringing him back to the spiritual calm and discipline excellence of his ancestry.
As a young adult, Kahana is artist of many trades breathing fire and gusto in his pursuits. He rises up the ranks and quickly becomes a stuntman action hero. His early adventures in overcoming adversity offscreen made his on-camera bravery look authentically that much easier. Kahana doesn’t ask that you like him, as the man himself, this story asks only for respect.
I was truly moved by Kim Kahana’s inspiring story of achievement against all odds. This tale is for anyone who feels that they’ve been dealt a bad hand in life. Kim Kahana would not give up. There are valuable lessons to be learned from his attitude and determination. It was fascinating how his life followed history from the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to his harrowing experiences during the Korean War to his work on many blockbuster Hollywood films. He ran away from Hawaii to find a better life and overcame every kind of struggle. You won’t find pages of endless introspection. Pain that is so deep often is never spoken, much less healed.