Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert

Moloka'iMoloka'i by Alan Brennert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert
★★★★ and 1/2

Synopsis: This richly imagined novel, set in Hawaii 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"
In A Sentence: A wonderful, heartbreaking story, worth a look

My Thoughts: As far as historical fiction goes, this was fantastic! It's a bittersweet story of the tragedy of leprosy on the islands of Hawaii. I don't know much about the history of Hawaii, and I was totally oblivious regarding this horrific epidemic. It's tragic that so many families were separated because of this disease, but it was also wonderful to read that the situation was able to improve enormously as time went on, to the point that lepers were finally able to leave the island of Moloka'i, their place of exile.
I loved reading about Rachel. She's such a loveable character, full of laughter and even optimism. You hate what's happened to her at first, but then you watch as she grows up to be a wonderful women. Her life story is inspiring and well-lived. It makes you want to laugh and cheer, or just plain cry.
The whole storyline in general was very well-thought-out, with a plot pace that might seem a little slow at times, but was still beautifully done.
Overall, this was an excellent read. Well-executed and well-written, it is certainly worth a look. Thanks Vonnie for this recommendation! It took me a couple of years to get around to it but I finally did, and I loved it!

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