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Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Moloka'i (2003)

by Alan Brennert

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1,6101184,515 (4.13)125
  1. 00
    The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both books have exotic, isolated settings and characters who experience great love as well as great loss.
  2. 00
    Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (cacky)

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In the 1890’s, at the tender age of seven, native Hawaiian Rachel is diagnosed with leprosy. She is separated from her family and eventually takes up residence at the Kalaupapa colony on the island of Moloka'i. She lives in this isolated location from childhood to old age, until sulfa drugs make leper colonies obsolete. She experiences happiness and sadness, love and loss, all while battling a disfiguring and little-understood disease.

The beginning of this book, with its exotic setting and child’s perspective, reminded me of the beginning of The Thorn Birds. There’s a potential made-for-TV miniseries within its pages (author Brennert is an Emmy-winning television writer). Rachel’s circumscribed world is populated by stock characters such as the mother-substitute who represents the traditional ways of pre-colonial Hawaii, the gender-bending best friend who dispenses fashion and dating tips, and the loving man who dies too soon (actually, there is more than one of those).

I liked Moloka'i, but I didn’t love it. I found the book easy to put down, because no matter how many sorrows she faced, I was sure that Rachel would make it through all right. Heroines in novels like this one always do. ( )
  akblanchard | Sep 16, 2014 |
I'm not sure why, but after a bit this book seemed to just drag on for me--whether writing style, lack of real events or movement, both, or neither, I can't say; but I was honestly considering a 2-star rating except that the ending worked out all right for me, since something actually happened then. Pretty good as a historical novel; but nothing extraordinary, to me, as a novel in itself, if that statement even makes sense. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
This is set in Hawaii in the late 1800s, and continues through the first half of the 20th century. In the 1890s, Rachel is diagnosed with leprosy at only 7 years old; she is sent away to Moloka'i where lepers go to keep them from infecting others. She grows up on Moloka'i, always hoping she'll test so that she can one day leave the island and be reunited with her parents and siblings. The book follows Rachel's entire life.

This was really good. I don't really know anything about leprosy, except the stigma that is attached to it. It was heartbreaking to “see” those little kids being separated from their families to be sent off to an island where most of them don't know anyone (unless they knew of someone who had been sent there previously). There was another main character in the book, Sister Catherine, who was there simply to help the people. I liked both characters. I think I enjoyed the book a little bit more when Rachel was a child, but overall, it was a very good book. ( )
  LibraryCin | May 14, 2014 |
for TLC book club; I thought I read this before, but it's not the book I remembered. Rachel is sent to the leper colony on Hawaii's Kalaupapa settlement, quarantined from her family and everyone who does not have leprosy. The tale is of her growing up, changes or lack thereof in the colony as it expands and grows, not keeping up with the outside world. It tells of her loves and losses, particularly her one child Ruth, who she has to give up so she can grow up healthy, because how leprosy spreads was not known. Eventually, sulfa drugs cure Rachel and she leaves the islands to find Ruthie. When she is dying, however, she returns to Kalaupapa to live out the rest of her life in the place that she knew most of her life. And the story ends with her death and being buried next to her husband and love, Kenji. ( )
  nancynova | Apr 14, 2014 |
We all loved this book. The topic was one of which we were all ignorant; leprosy, Hawaiian history, treatment, etc. The author did a good job of keeping any one element from being demonized. The middle is a bit like a romp through history and not particularly connected to the story other than to show the passage of time. This is a tragic episode in history and yet the author managed to the story from bogging down.

We ate at Thai Thai Too -1st time for this restaurant ( )
  Bibliofemmes | Mar 17, 2014 |
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For the people of Kalaupapa
For Edgar and Charlotte Wittmer
my 'ohana
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Later, when memory was all she had to sustain her, she would come to cherish it: Old Honolulu as it was then, as it would never be again.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312304358, Paperback)

This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place---and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end---but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story" (mostlyfiction.com).

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Seven-year-old Rachel is forcibly removed from her family's 1890s Honolulu home when she contracts leprosy and is placed in a settlement, where she loses a series of new friends before new medical discoveries enable her to reenter the world.

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