The story follows Sarah Chizek, a recently married woman from San Francisco, as she travels to the Big Island of Hawaii for her honeymoon and is left to reflect on her life while her new husband golfs all day. Neglected and alone in an unfamiliar place, she first turns to food and alcohol, then finds herself attracted to a hotel worker. The book follows her as she considers the choices she made in the past that led her to this place, and makes new choices - some empowering, some desperate.
The book also captures the Big Island as only someone who knows it as well as Dan could. At one point in the book, Sarah is exploring the island and Dan's knowledge of out of the way places and tourist destinations alike provide a 'sense of place' that grounds the book solidly in the beauty of Hawaii. From the Thurston Lava Tube bustling with tour groups to the eerie quiet of the forest in Mackenzie State Park, Dan transports the reader to paradise, albeit an imperfect one.
One major inspiration of the book is The Awakening by Kate Chopin, a novel published in 1899 that still resonate with readers today, and considered one of the earliest examples of feminist literature. It also follows a woman, Edna, who's left alone by her husband and turns her attentions to a young man, while she is constantly reminded of her duties as a woman by her friend Adèle. Like Sarah, Edna makes some desperate choices.
Dan put years of work into this book, writing and rewriting, working with editors, submitting it to publishers, and finally choosing to get the work into people's hands faster by self-publishing through CreateSpace and KDP. It's now been downloaded by over 4000 people, in addition to lots of paperback sales. Dan's discipline and creative energy are so inspiring to me, and I'm incredibly proud of him.
As a sci-fi, memoir and non-fiction reader, primarily, I can honestly say that Imperfect Paradise is a really wonderful book and is hard to put down. More than one person has said they read it in a single sitting, and I had a similar experience. A friend told me that after she finished it, she forgot and went to continue reading, only to be disappointed when she remembered that she'd already finished it. It would be a great summer read for while you're on vacation, an excellent choice for a book club (alone, or paired with The Awakening), and is also a well-written, thought provoking and satisfying novel.
From the words of some of his readers:
"It's a fast read that kept me entertained to the end so perfect for a plane ride or time at the beach."
"He shows the breadth of his talent with this often heart-aching
portrayal of a newlywed woman finally beginning to look at life through
her own eyes." "Dembiczak's beautiful writing connects you with Sarah from the first page."
"Sarah's that friend you helplessly watch as she goes through the motions
of life, following the expectations of her fiancé/husband & family." "It captures the beauty of Hawaii and its effect on people, with surprising results."
"This is a "must have" book for vacation, a lazy weekend or a book club
so one can enjoy the suspense while sitting beach side with a cocktail
or enjoying gossiping about the steamier chapters with friends."
" Hawaii really came alive."
"This is a novel to bring on your beach vacation, yes, but it's also a book to read if you want to feel some liberation."
"This book definitely challenges the traditional views on marriage and
highlights the struggles modern women may find themselves facing when it
comes to relationship and career choices."
"Although I had mixed feelings with the character's choices, the
revelations about her life reminds the readers that happiness, as well
as individuality, is a driving force to who you are."
"I read it in one sitting, and would recommend to other readers!"
You can pick up Dan's book on Amazon.com in eBookor Paperback format.
If you get the chance to read it, we would love to hear what you think. Every review on Amazon.com and Goodreads helps more customers find it and feel confident in their purchase. If it was a movie, I would say the novel is PG-13, given sexual situations and one reference to marijuana use.
If it doesn't sound like your cup of tea, consider helping us spread the word about this great book by liking it on Facebook, or adding it to one of your virtual shelves on Goodreads. You can also help the good reviews for the book on Amazon.com float to the top by rating them helpful.
Dan is already nearly 30 chapters into the first draft of his second novel, a story of death, adultery, and yoga set in Seattle and Maui called "The Hardest Pose is Corpse Pose".