Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, is part of a big, loving Hawaiian family, and dreams of seeing the far-off lands that her father, a merchant seaman, often visits. But at the age of seven, Rachel and her dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from her family, she is sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i.
In her exile she finds a family of friends to replace the family she's lost: a native healer, Haleola, who becomes her adopted "auntie" and makes Rachel aware of the rich culture and mythology of her people; Sister Mary Catherine Voorhies, one of the Franciscan sisters who care for young girls at Kalaupapa; and the beautiful, worldly Leilani, who harbors a surprising secret. At Kalaupapa she also meets the man she will one day marry.
True to historical accounts, Moloka'i is the story of an extraordinary human drama, the full scope and pathos of which has never been told before in fiction. But Rachel's life, though shadowed by disease, isolation, and tragedy, is also one of joy, courage, and dignity. This is a story about life, not death; hope, not despair. It is not about the failings of flesh, but the strength of the human spirit.
The people at Kalaupapa have lost their health, their families, often their dignity and identity, and they continue to suffer as new friends die and children born there are taken away. The book explores the meaning of family, whether it's the people you are born to or the people you welcome into your life as you grow older. Alan Brennert draws on historical accounts of Kalaupapa and weaves in traditional Hawaiian stories and customs.... Moloka'i is the story of people who had much taken from them but also gained an unexpected new family and community in the process.
Moving and elegiac
Los Angeles Times
A dazzling historical saga about a spirited Hawaiian girl who is banished to a leper colony in the early 20th century. What You'll Love Taking a rare look at the rich history of a state most Americans think of largely in terms of tourism. What You Won't Nothing.
Compellingly original.....Leprosy may seem a macabre subject, but Brennert transforms the material into a touching, lovely account of a woman's journey as she rises above the limitations of a devastating illness.
A gritty story of love and survival in a Hawaiian leper colony.....Not a comfortable read, but certainly instructive.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Gladys What does ohana mean? I belong to a book club at a library & the librarian chose this book. I was so taken by the story & it made a lot of things happen to my mind as I read it.
This book had so much love, sadness, freedom &
to believe in yourself &... Read More
Rated of 5
by Cher Kenyon Moloka'i I have read both his books, Hawaii included and I couldn't put either book down. You can really feel for the people he is talking about, cried as read the stories, could relate to the places he talks about since I have lived on Oahu for 30 yrs. I... Read More
Rated of 5
by Lehua Awsome book All I have to say is I can only hope that Mr. Brennert puts out another amazing book. I've read both Moloka'i & Honolulu. Being born & raised in Hawai'i made both books that much more enjoyable. Also to comment on Teri's posting, you're... Read More
Rated of 5
by Julie Masters Couldn't put it down I made my first trip to HI this past year and when I saw the title of this book I had to pick it up and read the jacket. I couldn't get home and started on it quickly enough. I was stuck in an airport for five hours yesterday and didn't mind at... Read More
Review (not rated)
by Alan Brennert Mahalo and Mosquitoes Mahalo to Teri for her very generous review of my novel Moloka'i. But as for the supposed "slip up" she brings up, well, I never claimed to be a kama'aina, and there probably are errors in the book I'm not aware of...but in regard to the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Teri Very Well Researched A wonderful and insightful book. Truly an excellent read. Having lived in the islands, and always fascinated by Moloka'i I have found the descriptions of places right on and the story of Rachel heartrending.
Just one comment- while Mr.... Read More
A deeply engaging new novel, set in both our time and the late nineteenth century. It centers on a California woman, half Indian, half Hawaiian, who became consort and confidante to the last king of Hawaii.
Join two intrepid young women as they delve into the centuries-old mysteries of Easter Island. Slowly unearthing the island's haunting past, they are forced to confront turbulent discoveries about themselves and the people they love, changing their lives forever.
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