As Paul struggles to understand his family’s livelihood, he learns that being a man has nothing to do with wielding the power to hurt people and animals.
Paul Silva lives in a paradise—a little farm high in the hills of a lush, green island in Hawaii—where his disabled father makes a living by raising, training, and caring for roosters. But Paul has been sheltered from the harsh reality of the ties between the family business and the underworld of cockfighting.
When a friend’s older brother decides to initiate Paul into the macho culture of cockfighting, Paul is shocked by what he sees. Illegal drugs. Gambling. But worst of all is the spectacle in the cockpit. With razor-sharp blades—gaffs—attached to their heels, the birds ruthlessly attack each other in a bloody fight to the death. Sickened by the brutal scene, Paul vows to find a way to get his family out of the business altogether. Eventually Paul learns to meet the tests of making decisions in the real world, which is far from a paradise.
Author Shan Correa brings to live the diverse and culture found in Hawaii, including Hawaiian Pidgin English, through this unique topic and engaging story.
“A fascinating look at the United States most mainlanders have never seen.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Reminiscent of Graham Salisbury’s fiction, Correa’s debut is strongly colored by its distinctive regional setting and culture…Paul’s narrative voice is spot-on for his 12 years.” ―Booklist
“Through Paul’s sensitive eyes, the novel provides a hard-hitting, but never gratuitous view of the brutal reality of cockfighting that’s contextualized by ethics and customs.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A winning middle-grade tale destined to become a local classic.” ―Honolulu Advertiser
“As a coming of age story (for ages 9-12), ‘Gaff’ by Shan Correa is elevated by its unusual setting and atypical family struggles.” ―Midwest Book Review
“The book’s unique topic and engaging story make it a sure entry for most middle grade and young adult must-read lists.” ―Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
Ka Palapala Po’okela Awards (Excellence in “Aloha from Across the Sea”) ―Hawaii Book Publishers Association, 2011
Nene Award Suggested Reading List ―Hawai’i DoE, Hawai’i State Public Library System, Hawai’i ASL, and the Hawai’i Library Association, 2013
AR Level: 4.4
Themes: Animal Rights, Friendship, Hawaii, Morality
BISAC 1: JUV039100 JUVENILE FICTION /Social Issues / Peer Pressure
BISAC 2: JUV039180 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Violence
BISAC 3: JUV011050 JUVENILE FICTION /People & Places / United States / Other