Moloka’i (Moloka’i, #1)
by Alan Brennert
by Alan Brennert
Set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, this is the story of Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, who 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.
This book has been on my TBR (to be read) pile for a while now. The girls on the message board where I post gave it rave reviews, so I added it to the list and then sort of forgot about it. When I was at the library the other day, I was looking through my list and wrote this one down. It was one of the few books on my list that the library had which weren’t checked out. I decided to give it a go.
Something you should know about me: I have a minor phobia of skin disorders. This was a challenge for me to read a book that deals with leprosy, but in a way it was a good thing. It forced me to look at a subject that I normally wouldn’t and evaluate it from a different perspective.
The first 20 or so pages were hard to get through because of the Hawaiian names. After that though, I couldn’t stop reading. One thing that is very important to me in a book is characterization. Even if the acting is great, the characters have to be endearing in some way. Brennert did a great job with this. I have nothing in common with the main character of this novel, but I found myself feeling sorry for her and admiring her all the same. I tended to skip over some of his descriptions of the setting, though. I did some googling and found pictures of Molokai and had those in my head. For the most part, his descriptions of Hawaii did nothing for me.
I like how Brennert dealt with some really heavy issues in this book, but he did it in a way that was acceptable. It was really hard to read about the way that these people were treated up until very recently (like the 70’s or 80’s) here in our very own country. It opened up my eyes to an issue that was not even on my radar before.
Overall, I think this was a great book, but probably not one that I could see myself rereading. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction.