Blame it on Hawaii’s rainbows, sparkling beaches, fruity cocktails, and sensuous breezes. For Heather Diamond, there for a summer course on China, a sea change begins when romance blooms with Fred, a Chinese ethnomusicologist from Hong Kong. Returning to her teaching job in Texas, Heather wonders if the whirlwind affair was a moment of madness. She is, after all, forty-five years old, married, a mother and grandmother. Rabbit in the Moon follows Heather’s multiple mid-life reinventions alongside the logistical and cultural challenges the couples must face to disentangle from their pasts and create a new life together in Honolulu.
Hawaii is the perfect setting for an intercultural marriage, but when Fred goes on sabbatical, Heather finds herself on the Hong Kong outer island of Cheung Chau with his large, boisterous family. For an independent, reserved American, adjusting to his extended family isn’t easy.
Life on Cheung Chau is overwhelming but also wondrous. Heather chronicles family celebrations, ancestor rituals, and a rich cycle of festivals like the Hungry Ghosts Festival, Chinese New Year, and the Bun Festival. Her descriptions of daily life and traditions are exquisite, seamlessly combining the insights of an ethnographer with the fascination of a curious newcomer who gradually transitions to part of the family. Along with learning to appreciate Chinese family values, Heather learns the value of being able to laugh at herself.
After immersing in her new Chinese family, Heather experiences reverse culture shock with her own family. On a trip to Harbin, China she compares her immigrant grandparents’ mixed marriage to her own. In the US, American funeral customs seem empty when her father dies. On a trip to Norway, she reassesses her relationship with her mother through the lens of Chinese filial piety.
Moving between Hawaii, Hong Kong, and the continental US, Rabbit in the Moon is an honest, finely crafted meditation on intercultural marriage, the importance of family, and finding the courage to follow your dreams.
Heather Diamond has a Ph.D. in American Studies and has worked as a bookseller, university lecturer, and museum curator. She is the author of American Aloha: Cultural Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition and Rabbit in the Moon: A Memoir. Her essays have appeared in Memoir Magazine, Sky Island Journal, (Her)oics: Women’s Lived Experiences of the Pandemic, Rappahannock Review, Hong Kong Review, Waterwheel Review, Pacifica Review, and Undomesticated Magazine.