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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Vagrants in Paradise is a non-fiction memoir written by Paul Howard. After travelling to Hawaii with the hopes of acquiring some of life’s knowledge which could not be gained in a classroom, Paul and his friends, Nate, Dupree, Dalton and Manny quickly learn what happens in Kailua-Kona when your brakes gives out on a steep hill while driving uninsured with a suspended driving license. Officer Callaghan, whilst friendly at all times, is initially lenient with the boys, but is not so amused when they confess that they had lied about who had been driving the car before impact. Thus begins the misadventures of five friends who are working, through volunteer programs, on different farms in Hawaii. Personalities clash as hot-headed and aggressive meets assertive, laid-back and relaxed, leading to some tossing up on whether to stay on and tough it out, or simply buy a ticket back home to the mainland. Prior to leaving home, the five had envisioned fresh fruit, palm trees, the ocean and beautiful women as far as the eye can see. Instead, they are hit by the stifling heat of the equator, whilst working long hours on various farms with other sweaty workers, in order to meet the agreed quota for the day. During their time on the island, however, all five boys are lucky to learn some of the local traditions, with each lesson as memorable as it is invaluable to survival.
It did not take long for me to be absolutely engrossed in each and every adventure which Paul Howard had experienced and written about in this wonderfully eye-opening tale. Vagrants in Paradise not only shows how a strange place is perceived prior to a visitor’s arrival, but also shows the vast difference between that experienced by a tourist and somebody who lives there. Whilst there is a saying, ‘It’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there,’ I now find myself hoping to some day experience Hawaii for myself, especially their unique food dishes after reading how much they made Paul and his friends drool. I thoroughly enjoyed Vagrants in Paradise and recommend it to all who have the travel bug or who love having their funny bone tickled with a great yarn.