Ikau’s future seemed far from failure and disappointment. The fifth grade recipient of honorable mention for his research project, “Poisonous Plants in Hawaii,” he also won first place as a sixth grader for his project entitled “La’au Lapa’au Hawaii: Hawaiian Herbal Healing.” Yet the social and physical distance Ikau had to travel just to get to school nearly defeated him. after dropping out from school as a seventh grader to take care of his elderly grandma, his travels would take him past some of Hawaii’s notorious landmarks–Chinatown, ‘A’ala Park, Makiki, Tantalus, Bishop Museum, ‘Iolani Palace, to Ala Moana Beach Park–where Ikau spent most of his days homeless.
The degrading, dirty, disgusting lifestyle of homelessness confronted Ikau at a young age, showing no mercy to his moral character, refusing to make life easier on him. At fourteen, he entered a world of druggies, perverts, rapists, and crazies preying the beach park. Surprisingly, though, what Ikau ultimately finds are some individuals who may be just as unfortunate to live amongst the stereotypes, but are also fortunate enough to have one another to trust.
Matthew Kaopio Jr.’s Up Among the Stars follows Ikau’s journey as an adolescent doing his best to live a normal life while homeless, never fading in his will to do good and help others. Perhaps what he longs for, a family and home, remain as distant as the stars, but his courage and strength to never give up on himself leads him to a future brighter than he could have ever imagined.