Read Moloka'i by Alan Brennert Online


Moloka'i is the story of Rachel Kalama, growing up in Honolulu in the 1890's, who at the age of 7 is taken from her family and sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i....

Title : Moloka'i
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250004680
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Moloka'i Reviews

  • Lisa Vegan
    2019-06-02 07:27

    Reading this book contained and gave me absolutely everything I love about reading. It encompasses everything I love about the reading process. I loved it so much I know I won’t be able to write a coherent or worthy review; there’s no way for me to do this story justice, except to recommend it to many, many people I know, something I’ve already started to do.Not only couldn’t I conceive of not giving it 5 stars, it also easily made my favorites shelf.It’s an outstanding book. Anything accurate I say will sound like hyperbole, I am sure.I cried more with emotion than I have for all but another handful of books.It’s a book to savor. It’s completely absorbing. It’s very hard to put down. Great storytelling!It’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, there’s lots of pathos, but there is also plentiful humor, including humor that often comes unexpectedly, at least for me; many times during some of the most poignant moments, I'd find something hilarious. I chuckled a lot, and smiled at something on nearly every page. . It broke my heart yet lifted me up. I also learned so much, especially about Hawaiian history and culture and about the settlement on Moloka'i. It’s a fabulous book. I’m so grateful my book club agreed to read this (okay, I finally bullied them into it) because it had been on my to-read shelf for forever, but having to read it for the group forced me to get to it.I cared tremendously about so many of the characters, particularly Rachel Kalama, but really most of them are compelling. The settings are so spot on amazing and as I reader I really felt as though I was there, every step of the way.It’s about a life/lives and never for a moment does the experience of being with them feel less than 100% authentic. Rachel: every moment with her feels genuine, everything about her and how she is makes sense at every stage of her life.I absolutely loved all the Hawaiian words interspersed throughout, all with their English counterparts right with them so their meaning was always apparent.And, if this historical fiction book couldn’t be more perfect, there is an author’s note at the end where the author lets the reader know a few real people a few characters were based on and lists the sources used for the research done to in general recreate the time and place. A stellar job was done, as far as I can tell. There are a bunch of books, and information about them, listed in the back of this novel, and I am tempted to read some of them, but honestly, this book sated me; even though it was fiction, I feel I couldn’t have come away with more edification from any non-fiction account; that’s how good this novel is. Every time I thought it was amazing, something else happened that made it even more so. Over and over and over again.I talked with a friend as I was reading this book, and she reminded me that either our fourth grade teacher or his brother, who at the time was a Christian missionary in the Philippines, had worked on Moloka’i, working with the residents who had Hansen’s disease. That bit of information solved a puzzle for me: I couldn’t remember why when I was nine and ten I was fascinated by and afraid of leprosy, couldn’t remember how I even knew about the disease. And, I’m sure it’s one of the reasons this book appealed to me as soon as I knew about it; I was fascinated. So, yes, I had a predilection for being able to enjoy the subject of this novel. But, I highly recommend this book to anyone who ever enjoys historical fiction novels, coming of age novels, cross cultural stories, stories with child protagonists, anyone interested in Hanesn's Disease or the history of medicine, or anything about Hawaii and/or its history, and all readers who can appreciate a gripping story.

  • Hannah
    2019-05-27 05:34

    Disappointing.Underwhelming.Squandered potential.Lacks "soul".These are a few of the things that immediately sprang to mind after finishing Molika'i. After reading several 2 star reviews here on Goodreads by more gifted reviewers then myself, I really can't add much more without becoming repetitive.Suffice it to say, this book had so much potential. So much possibility. And although a vast majority of readers thought it met (and exceeded) those parameters, for me it fell flat.I wanted my soul to be moved while reading this. I wanted my heart to be engaged. I wanted to feel real sympathy for these fictional characters played out against a very non-fictional aspect of history. Instead, I yawned - frequently. I looked to see how many pages were left. I got tired of the innumerable instances of "info-dumping" (and plotline wrangling in order to create the "info-dump" moment). I thought of how a writer like my favorite M.M. Kaye would have handled this scene or that situation. I got frustrated over the shallow writing and the contemporary feel of a story that was supposed to take place over 100 years ago. And finally, I closed the book and was sad that what could have been an awesome story fell flat for me (expecially since I've been on a run of mediocre reads lately).This is a minority opinion - but it's mine. Hope it's a better read for others.

  • Juliana
    2019-06-25 06:22

    One of my favorite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, delves into the crazy idea that people don’t have to be miserable when the world around them is. Moloka’i is another such book. The message: life isn’t over until it’s over.Separated from everything dear to her, the heroine of this book, Rachel, learns at a young age that life can still provide her with simple joys—and profound fulfillment. And though she spends many moments peeking into the abyss of despair, she also spends moments rescuing others from the black chasm of regret.She encounters those who choose to allow their circumstances to define them, bitterness festering into hatred, until they are a shell of a human. She meets those who allow bitterness to overcome them despite the blessings and freedom she has longed so desperately for. This novel highlights that the human race is endowed with the ability to choose happiness…or to choose despair:“God didn’t give man wings; He gave him the brain and the spirit to give himself wings,” counsels Rachel’s friend. “Just as He gave us the capacity to laugh when we hurt, or to struggle on when we feel like giving up. I’ve come to believe that how we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or death…is the true measure of the Divine within us. Some … choose to do harm to themselves and others. Others … bear up under their pain and help others to bear it.”This historical novel chronicles the lives of those who lived on the island of Moloka’i: a colony of “lepers” who are outcast from their families, friends and the lives that were once commonplace. At times the colony is attended to and kept clean and up-to-date. At times, it is in ruins and neglected by the various governments who fly their flags on it’s shore. And mirroring the settlement are people who can choose whether they have come there to watch their life fall into ruin—or whether they have gone there to discover a new, if unexpected, life.When Rachel first lands on the shores as a young child, she turns away, sickened, from the people who greet her with smiles. Later she learns to accept and love these people. She also learns to accept herself and the trials that have been handed to her: “Friends called out to her; the surf beckoned to her; her horse, on seeing her, happily nuzzled her neck. This was life, and if some things were kapu [or forbidden], others weren’t; she had to stop regretting the ones that were and start enjoying the ones that were not.”This novel is also threaded with themes of religion, culture, family life and politics. Each piece flows together seamlessly, making this a novel that I would heartily recommend to others.First words: "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."Note: because of several graphic scenes, I would not recommend this book for a young audience. Although frankly, most books I read are not geared toward a young audience...

  • James
    2019-05-31 04:32

    Alan Brennert's Moloka'i is a beautifully written and moving tale of a young girl's interaction with a leprosy colony throughout her life time. The impacts on her life as she grows older are tremendous and she loses friends and family around her fighting her own battles to survive.The story and characters will tug at your heartstrings and push you into thinking more about your own life -- and the good you have in it. If you're able to hear someone else's plight to survive, and you can empathize with such painful scars, you will love this book. But beware it can be sad at times.Knowing so much of this is true, and how we as people treat one another, can be hard to swallow. It was a different time, and medicine and technology weren't what they are today... but still... it takes books like these to show us the error of our ways.

  • Richard Derus
    2019-05-26 07:23

    Rating: 3.75* of fiveThe Publisher Says: 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. My Review: This historical novel is about a time and a place most of us don't pay a lot of attention to. Hawaii is a state now, fifty-three years of statehood, but there are many Hawaiians who don't feel like they're American, only Hawaiian and that's enough for them. The USA might rule over Hawaii, but its contributions to Hawaii's history are recent...not yet 150 years out of over 1,000 of history...and, if there is any justice in this world, ephemeral.Part of that contribution is told in this angering, awful tale of the injustices once thought unremarkable that were the lot of mixed-race Hawaiians, as well as the pragmatic but inhumane exile of lepers from their lives and families to the island of Moloka'i. Rachel is our heroine, a child taken from home and family because of leprosy. Her life on Molokai, from childhood to death, is full, and rich, and replete with love; it's also terribly heart-breakingly sad, as all lives are, with loss and sacrifice and connections made late, too late, that can never be made what they were meant to be.Rachel's daughter Ruth, at Rachel's funeral, meditates on what self-sacrifice gave her, and cost her, at the end of the book: “...I'm lucky, you see: I had two mothers. One gave life to me; one raised me. But they both loved me. You know, some people don't even get that once.“It took me a while to say the words 'I love you' to my {birth mother}. It was a different kind of love than I felt for my {adoptive mother}, but founded on the same things. … There's only one disadvantge, really, to having two mothers,” Ruth admitted. “You know twice the love...but you grieve twice as much.” (p382, US hardcover edition)I had a mother I wasn't fond of, I had a stepmother I was fond of, and I had superlative good fortune in having older female friends who mothered me and supported me in ways my own mother would not have wanted, or been able, to do. I've grieved the various losses as they've happened, and wondered what it would mean to grieve one mother, one time, with one whole and undivided heart. But it's when I read this passage again that I realize my heart wasn't divided. It was multiplied, many many times, by the gift of so much love and kindness I received from them. So for Jan, and Irene, and Jo, and Nina...all gone but one...I thank you again for helping form who I am. I refer to your examples when I am in doubt. I keep working to be more like each of you in giving more than I'm asked for.For Alan Brennert, thank you good sir for your ever and always timely reminder that love makes families as much as birth does.This is obviously a novel that went to the root of my experience in the world, but it's not by any means a perfect novel. It's not hugely beautiful, it's instead heartfelt and deeply experienced. It's sentimental, in a good way, and it's also got a healthy dose of sentimentality in a bad way. But on balance, reading through the pages, my thoughts overruled the rolling of my eyes as I felt my way through the life of Rachel the mixed-race leper. Her world, and her places in it, were evoked fully in Brennert's somewhat heavy prose. Pages did not fly up to meet my fingers, they waited for me to come and turn them with the stolid stodgy heaviness of poi...stickier and heavier than potatoes, not quite adhesive enough to be glue.So don't go into this read thinking the linguistic arabesques will delight and amaze you in their lightness and nimbleness, and the rich, satisfying prose carving a truthful, worthwhile woodcut of a story will reward you.

  • Dem
    2019-06-16 03:27

    Moloka'i is a book that sums up for me why I love historical fiction. I need to learn something with each book that I read and and I love my history to read like fiction and with Moloka'i you get all these wonderful elements and more. I really enjoyed this novel and I had thought from reading the blurb that this was going to be a depressing read and but Alan Brennert has a way of telling a story and getting the point across without dragging the Novel down and making it depressing. I loved the way Brennert deals with human tragedy of both the patients and the families, I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel as I felt their sadness but also their joy and achievements. I love the picture that Brennert painted of the Island, the setting and atmosphere is so real and I was able to conjure up images of the Island in my head and that’s when you know you are going to love a story.The characters in this novel are wonderful and real, I loved all of them and how they became a community who watched out and cared for each other and dealt with sadness and loss everyday and yet lead full lives for themselves.I enjoyed learning about the history of Hawaii and feel the author did a great job in researching this book.I really enjoyed this novel its historical fiction at its best.

  • Elyse
    2019-06-12 06:20

    Update: I never wrote a full review of this book. I read it before I joined Goodreads. --Its 'still' a favorite! If you've never read about the ways the community reacted to leprosy during its day --this book gives you the experience. (pretty sad) A young girl is removed from her family --sent to the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'. We meet many vibrant characters on the island and watch Rachel grow up --I laughed -and cried. This story has stayed with me for approx. 13 years. --Wonderful scenes....(surf boarding...before surf boards?) -- etc. Reading "Molokai" is a readers gift!I Just looked at my old little review ---wishing for Alan to come visit us in the Bay Area....He did! Great time! I've been on his personal e-mail list with his updates ever since. He has a new novel coming out next year --He returns to his favorite island: "Hawaii". -------------------------------I loved this book. I gave it as a gift to at least 4 of 5 friends ---A beautiful story!Our Goodreads woman's group has voted to read *Molokai* for next month (May: my birthday month)!I look forward to our engaging discussions!It would be 'very cool' if Alan Brennert could join us! (I'm hoping to hear him speak next year in the Bay Area when he introduces his new book in 2013), He put a request in to 'speak' in our area! Hope so! GREAT man --who loves 'The Islands'.

  • Lance Greenfield
    2019-06-15 07:27

    All because of fearUnfounded fear, unbounded love, exile, cruelty, death, suffering, prejudice and, most of all, sacrifice. It is all there, in this beautiful story.There is already enough description of the actual story on the fly leaf and all of the other reviews, but this is a wonderful book. It is well researched, and clearly based on fact. If any aspiring writer wants a lesson in character development, they need look no further than Moloka’i. There are so many prominent characters in this book; all of them are beautifully crafted.I was advised to “have a tissue or two on hand.” That advice turned out to be inadequate. I could have done with a couple of buckets to catch the tears that I shed whilst reading this book.I would strongly recommend it to all.

  • Poonam
    2019-06-20 07:21

    4.5 starsThis story was an eye-opener. It deals with the topic of Leprosy also known as Hansen's disease...Frankly speaking I never thought much about Leprosy and ashamed to say neither did I know much about this disease. The only thing that came to mind when hearing the word Leprosy is distorted features.....This story is based in the late 19th century when Leprosy was a major disease and there was no known cure for the same. This is a fictional story of a Leprosy patient based on true historical events. This can be an issue for some of the readers but I was fine with this as the fictional part of the story was blended well with the political and social changes happening during that time. Also as per the Author's note at the end, the story was well researched and few of the supporting characters have reference to real people living at that time periodThe story start's with Rachael a 5 year old, her loving but strict mother, her loving elder siblings and her father who is a sailor traveling foreign lands most of the time but adores Rachel a lot. When she is afflicted with Leprosy at the age of 6, we see how she is torn away from her family and how this disease effects her family dynamics. How people with religious belief's at that time believe this is a result of sin in individuals and how the whole family is shunned. It was heart-breaking to see a young child, baffled by everything that is happening to her and the treatment she receives because of something that is no fault of hers. Leprosy is not just a physical disease but it effects the patients and the people close to them mentally as well.She is torn away from her family and sent to Moloka'i- A Leper Colony. In real, there was an actual leper colony in Mokola'i and the folks affected by Leprosy were transported there and declared dead in the society. Here slowly and gradually she forms a new life which is not very simple when there is malady and death all around. We are taken on a journey with Rachel and see things through her eyes for her life span. There are unlikely friendships formed, love found, hope & happiness found even in dire conditions.There were many true historical events such as America taking over Hawaii and downfall of the Hawaiian Royal family, World war, New technological advancements, Natural disasters and finally a Breakthrough in the cure of this dreaded disease. Each event is very well interwoven with our story and we see how these big events have an impact on the Leper colony.There is also an aspect of people from different religions such as Christianity, Buddhism and the old Hawaiian ways staying together and respecting each others belief's. Stories of Hawaiian folklore has been blended in the story, which I found really interesting and it had me googling and reading more about it.This book was not a simple story for me but much more as it made me aware of a lot of things I had no idea about (I was actually online searching a lot of events and stories described in this book)Below is an actual live photo I found online of the Leper Colony of Moloka'i. At present there are still a few patients living there.This story made me feel very emotional and gave me a craving to be with my family. There were parts that made me smile and parts that made me weep. It has effected me on an emotional level.The book can feel long sometimes but I will still recommend this book to anyone who want's to read a different story which at times distressing can still provide hope.

  • Wendy
    2019-06-16 07:19

    I nominated and re-read this novel for book club and was thrilled when our members felt the same way about this story as I did.I have yet to come across an author who not only writes heart breaking yet heart warming stories but also the beautifully artistic way he depicts the beauty that is the Hawaiian islands.Rachel, the narrator, is one of the strongest characters I've had the pleasure to live through twice. Her story is powerful and one that has stayed with me for seven years thus far.I could truly feel this author's work being a labour of love and this is what has made it one of my all-time favourite books.Honolulu and Palisades Park, both by Alan Brennert are wonderful reads as well.

  • Melki
    2019-06-04 03:18

    This is an ambitious novel that covers many tumultuous and eventful decades of history.It should also be subtitled When Every Bad Thing Happens to One Person.You don't expect a novel about a leper colony to be the feel-good read of the year, but gee willikers...I was reminded of the moment in films when one character says "It can't get any worse than this!" and immediately it starts pouring. Having leprosy and being snatched away from loved ones is not BRUTAL ENOUGH. Being exiled and forced to live in abject poverty is not BAD ENOUGH. ALL characters must SUFFER and it is always the WORST OF TIMES. (view spoiler)[She gets married...he gets killed. She has a gets taken away. He's an artist...of course, he'll lose his fingers. And if this isn't heartbreaking enough...let's throw a tsunami at 'em all! (hide spoiler)] All this misery so the characters can keep smiling, shining through and plugging away. I know, I know...this is supposed to show the triumph of the human spirit, and while piling every awful thing on the shoulders of one character worked so well for me in Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, here, it grated and annoyed. I'm going to blame it on the writing.There is something truly irritating about Brennert's writing style that I just can't put my finger it overly dramatic, too grandiose, too hand-wringing? I don't know, but it wore me down. This honestly isn't bad enough to be a BAD book. It should provide good book club fodder. My real life book club will be hashing this over on Thursday night, and I'm guessing the overwhelming majority will have loved it, no doubt, as tales of plucky heroines who overcome stiff odds are always popular. For me personally, I'm going to put this down to an interesting and involving story, not well told.

  • Camie
    2019-06-16 00:41

    "God doesn't give anyone leprosy. He gives us, if we choose to use it, the spirit to live with leprosy, and with the imminence of death. Because it is in our own mortality that we are most divine." Anyone who knows my families health history will know why this book spoke to me. There's nothing like a heaping helping of illness to change ones perspective on life. Rachel is just seven years old when she is taken from her family and banished to the island Moloka'i having been found to have Leprosy. This is a very well researched work of historical fiction that is made even more heartrending as it's based on the lives of many Hawaiians who actually faced this tragic fate in the early twentieth century. Scorned, feared, and exiled they confront lives altered by a disease that threatens to slowly destroy them both body and soul. It's been awhile since I read a book that I had to set down several times just to regroup. 5 stars

  • Karen
    2019-05-26 03:11

    All I can say is that this book broke my heart. Over and over again.It reminded me of my response to the book The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, as it shed light on a time and place in history in which I was very ignorant. In the course of reading The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I learned something about the Internment of Japanese Americans (in Seattle area) during WWII. In the case of Moloka'i, I learned much about the leper colony on this small island of Hawaii in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Moloka'i, by contrast was a much more intimate and raw account of these events, in my opinion. It was also very detailed and many of the political figures and certainly the locations were factual. I am sure Rachel's story is not unique and not entirely fictitious, which is just a haunting and heart-wrenching thought.It did have a nice ending. But the 380+ pages in between were nothing less than tragic and emotionally exhausting. If you are interested in stories of perseverance, discrimination, real human survival, and family ties, you will so appreciate this book! I highly recommend it. (But keep a box of tissue at the ready!) This is also a great read for men as well as women.

  • Erin
    2019-06-25 00:35

    I was watching a high speed car chase on television yesterday and something ACTUALLY HAPPENED. This is amazing, because Los Angeles probably generates about 3 high speed car chases a week and they are all INCREDIBLY BORING. This is because there is approximately 2353459845 miles of high way in Los Angeles and all of it is full of cars, all the time, making the general highest speed for a high speed car chase about, ohhhhh.... 20 mph.(I guess that technically means there's actually about 2353459845 miles of parking lot in LA, but whatever.)The point is, usually the perp pulls onto a crowded highway, runs into a barrier/off the shoulder/into thousands of stopped cars, and is immediately apprehended. You always know what is going to happen.That's pretty much how I felt about this book when I picked it up. It even felt heavy in my hands, like I knew I was holding one of those car wrecks you can't take your eyes off. Did I really want to spend the next six hour flight sniffling into my 2 ply Southwest Airlines napkin? I was hooked on the leprosy colony thing, though. Leprosy is a fascinating disease, and I'm not trying to sound like bad dialogue from one of the CSI spinoffs. It's a disease that takes away your nerve endings. Imagine breaking a toe and not being able to feel it--- so you just keep walking on it till it falls off. Whoa. Plus lepers were always running around in the Bible during my childhood sunday school lessons, and since I was a little confused on the terminology, I spent grades kindergarten through 3rd thinking lepers were people with canes who farmed "LEmon PEppER". Thanks Bobby Chris. If I ever meet you again I'm going to punch you in the face for feeding me that.Anyway, time to rectify the situation. I know the style of writing was dry for some (the term "plodding" consistently comes to mind when I try to think of a summary for the pace) but I think it served the author's purpose. He wanted to accurately represent the history of the colony and the people in it, through the eyes of one fictitious character. That's challenging. Sometimes it read like a list of death, but I understood, from the very beginning... this car wreck is involves an incurable and deforming disease, and as such, bad thing after bad thing is going to happen, till the very, inevitable, end.That's why I didn't expect so much hope from the book. It wasn't one of those, "on the edge of your seat, is she gonna find a miracle cure" type books. It simply held moments of day-to-day triumph that I found very personable, realistic, and bittersweet. The back of the cover of this book had a summary that said something like "Moloka'i proves that people find the best of life in any situation" or some bullshit like that, but I didn't find the book anywhere as overbearing in terms of beating you over the head with morals. It was refreshing in that the author was just trying to tell you one person's life story, complete with all its flaws, and in all its glory. I came away with a lot to think about. Oh, and by the way, that car chase. Dudes, you would not BELIEVE. So I turn on the TV and this red bronco is pulling off the highway into a residential area during rush hour, around a SCHOOL. I'm thinking, whoa, finally a smart car chase-person-running-from-the-law... you got off the highway, and yet will now possibly commit manslaughter of several minors. Then I'm thinking... whoa... that's... near my house. Of course I can't pull away now. He drives by schools. He drives on the wrong side of the road. You know it's going to happen (on live tv! OMG) and then... it happens! BAM! Right into a honda in the middle of an intersection... and then, this fat cholo claws his way out of the bronco! No way! Dude, are you seriously going to run into the backyard of that house while 3 dozen helicopters are tracking the light reflecting off your bald shiny head? Also, is that backyard near mine? Also, if it is, maybe the annoying rat-dog next door will get caught in the crossfire!He then proceeds to pull someone out of the car they are vacuuming in their driveway, and forces them to take off all their clothes so he can put them on! BUT HE CAN'T FIT! Seriously, where are the cops? Meanwhile the entire KCLA network is watching this guy trying to put on a black shirt and look casual, walking down the block with his arm stuck in the neck hole. It was awesome. No, seriously.Ok fine. But it was still better than "Two and A Half Men". Which, sadly resumed after they caught the guy. Which left me thinking two things: 1) If the news helicopters are following the guy better than the police, maybe we should just give the camera guys machine guns. Now that would make for much better prime time news coverage. 2) How is that show, nevertheless Charlie Sheen, STILL ON TV?!?!?!!

  • Britany
    2019-06-23 06:11

    What a heartbreaking story-- one that always seemed to seep desolation and loneliness. I was prepared to be emotionally invested and from one tragic event to the next I didn't full lose it until the very end. (view spoiler)[ When Sarah opens her door and embraces Rachel- I completely bawled my eyeballs out! (hide spoiler)]. Rachel, the narrator is one of the strongest characters I've had the pleasure to live through. She is shipped to Moloka'i at 7 years old because she tested positive to Leprosy. Forced to leave behind her family and friends, and everything she ever knew to be quarantined on an island with fellow lepers. Powerful story and one that I don't think I'll likely forget. I don't think I've read anything else regarding this disease, and I was intrigued from the beginning. Now, I'm wanting to find out more about this time in our history.Tough subject matter-- certainly couldn't recommend to everyone, but highly recommend for those that enjoy historical fiction.

  • Manju
    2019-06-02 03:27

    Moloka'i is tale of Rachel. She was diagnosed with Leprosy at an early age. As was the tradition, she had to leave her family and go to a far away place called Moloka'i. Severed from loved ones, initial days at Moloka'i were very tough for her. Only consolation was the presence of her uncle Pono at the Island. But soon Rachel comes to terms with her new life at this new place. She made friends, found love and solace but also went through the pain of losing and giving up loved ones for their own safety.One of the most touching thing about this book is relationship among characters and their acceptance of who they're. If someone had lost hope, others were there to be their strength and hold them together. They inspired each other to let go of hatred and love others. I always love when through a book I come to know about the history and culture of a place. And this book is a real treat. Author has painted a vivid picture of Moloka'i and Hawaii, it's people, their myths, the tales and its traditions. How people treated Leprosy and it's victims in early 1900s to how WW effected this secluded place. Everything was described so beautifully, which also left me trembling many a times.I really enjoyed reading this and it also left me emotionally drained but satisfied with its end. A beautiful tale of survival, love, friendship and sacrifices.

  • Jasika
    2019-06-22 02:27

    Surely the worst book of which I have ever read half. I kept thinking, "No self-proclaimed best seller can be THIS's got to get better, its GOT to get BETTER!" But it didn't. I picked it up at the book store after visiting Lana'i, Hawaii for the first time and becoming enraptured by the culture and the land there, and fascinated by what the people must have been like pre-colonialism. From page one I knew there was little hope for this "historical fiction" book to be better than trite, but even worse was that it was BARELY educational. Very little historically accurate information was provided. I don't consider myself to be a very talented writer, but I found myself reworking every single page of this book that I read- it was like it didnt even have an editor that looked over it. The dialogue was the most laughable part, though. For a book that is supposed to take place in the early 1900's, I was completely appalled when the characters said things like "Hey" and "How's it going?" Its been a while since I took English Lit classes and paid attention to the vernacular of early settlers in new lands, but COME ON! British colonizers didn't use that language and neither would the Hawaiians that had been taught english. Terrible book, with a sappy, unbelievable story line and a bland preaching of morality. I considered it a waste of my time to have read as many pages of this book as I did, but I couldn't help it....I am an optimist :)

  • Chrissie
    2019-05-31 04:37

    NO SPOILERS!!!I want to make it very clear; those of you who are looking for a book of historical fiction on life in Hawaii, look no further - this is your book. Do not make the mistake I made by first trying Shark Dialogues. I could not complete Shark Dialogues. Moloka'i will teach you about life in Hawai through the 1900s. It will teach you about leprosy, today called Hansen's Disease. I thought I knew quite a bit about this disease. This book proved me wrong. I learned so much. This book brings the horrors of this disease to you, the reader, as a mighty punch in the stomach. I learned so much. Besides learning about the disease, I learned about Hawaii. I feel I can now smell it and see it and feel it. The mositure, the pounding surf, the majestic mountains, cliffs and crumbling paths mounting the peaks. You learn not only about the physical landscape but also native Hawaiian customs and belifs.The reason why I give this book four stars is that I learned so much. The historical and medical facts are presented in the framework of an engaging tale.There is an excellent author's note at the end. It explains what is fact and what is fiction. Several of the characters are based on true experiences and real people. So much history is reflected in this book. Not merely the treatment of leprosy, but also the death of King Kaläkua, the reign of Queen Lili'uokalani, the American take-over, WW2 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, fires, the tsunami, the marvels of invention that characterize the early 1900s, the Depression, all of this is covered from the Hawaiian perspective. It is fascinating to read this book. Rachel is the main protagonist of the book. Her life is very difficult and heart-wrenching, but there is humor. That which happens in her life makes the reader understand how it might feel to be a leper then, there, in Hawaii, in the 1900s. The style of writing is straight-forward. The circumstances and facts are presented so you come to understand the people who suffered the stigma of leprosy and the events of the times.

  • Connie
    2019-05-27 01:38

    In 1891, Rachel Kalama shows the first signs of leprosy as a seven-year-old. She is quarantined by the Inspector of Health and banished to the Hawaiian island of Molola'i. This is the story of her life, historical fiction based upon the actual settlement of lepers at Kalaupapa.The story shows the horror of the infected person being ripped from a family, and the shame that was brought on the family that remained behind. Devoted nuns and brothers selflessly cared for the children of Kalaupapa, trying to reconcile the devestation of leprosy with the idea of a loving God. Rachel went from being a frightened child to a spirited teenager to a strong adult, and I found so many events in her life emotionally moving. I won't spoil the story with details of her life. With the advent of antibiotics, many cases of leprosy--now renamed Hansen's disease--were cured and some residents were allowed to leave the island.The portrayal of Rachel touched the heartstrings, and the book held my interest. I would recommend Moloka'i to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.10/10/12 Addendum: I just reread the book for a library book group discussion. This was one of the few books that everyone in the group loved. They felt that the author created characters that they could empathize with, while learning about the history involved. Most of the group shed a few tears as they read because the book emotionally touched us.

  • Warwick
    2019-06-01 05:13

    By-the-numbers ‘exotic’ historical fiction about the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Moloka‘i at the end of the nineteenth century. The language is an ungainly mixture of anachronistic modernisms (‘she gave him the stink-eye’), boring clichés (‘harsh glare’, ‘warm glow’), and metaphorical flourishes that fall flat (‘Dorothy felt something wet fall on her leg, unexpected as a drop of rain on a sunny day’). Brennert is a veteran screenwriter for shows like L.A. Law, and much of the dialogue here performs the sort of brisk exposition that is acceptable in a well-directed TV film but which feels rather artless and clumsy in running prose. I'm sounding overly harsh here – the book isn't offensively bad, and people who generally enjoy this kind of novel will definitely get more enjoyment out of this one than I did. Brennert has done his research, I'll say that, but in my case I quickly realised that I'd rather be reading the books in the bibliography than the novel he turned them into; I bailed after a hundred pages, which is pretty unusual for me.

  • Kathy
    2019-06-08 05:17

    There's nothing quite like finishing a book and knowing that you now have a favorite to add to your list of favorite reads. While the story was as compelling a one as I've read, it was a learning novel for me, too. The absorption of Hawaii by the United States, the disease of leprosy or Hansen's disease, the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai (heck, the island itself), the island of Maui, early aviation. All of these subjects and more were presented in an amazing story by Brennert, whose writing skills were able to capture the history, the emotion, and the humanity of the many years covered. Heartbreaking and uplifting, following the story of Rachel Kalama from when she was sent away to Kalaupapa at the age of 7 into adulthood, was watching a journey of strength and bravery few of us are ever called upon to muster. I am very much looking forward to reading Brennert's Honolulu. A new favorite book and a new favorite author is quite a catch in reading!

  • Emma
    2019-05-30 01:22

    The author himself says at the end that this was really a fictionalised biography more than a fictional novel. This made sense to me because it read like a biography but I thought maybe it hadn't been deliberate, which just made it poor writing. However the author wanted to give full respect and acknowledgement to the people whose lives this book was based upon and for this I respect the author more.It is clear he loves Hawaii.I found this book quite slow with a lot of information dumping. I found out a lot about Hawaii and its developing relationship with America. The cultural and historical aspects of this book were interesting.Reading the entire book I found I was more forgiving as the book follows the life of one main character through her life. It is a story of acceptance, accepting what cannot be changed and making the most of your life regardless; a story of community in adversity; love and ignorance.We are taken through Hawaii becoming part of America and the world wars; we see the arrival of capitalism, the advent of gramophones and planes; electricity; medical setbacks and advances; romance; the cycle of birth and death.This book is upbeat despite the tragic situation it describes and depicts. The story of spirit and character triumphing over despondency and despair.

  • Jane
    2019-06-18 23:35

    Where I got the book: my local library. A Goodreads Effect book, meaning that I read it because I'd seen it talked about on GR.Sigh. Verdict if you want the short version: a brilliantly conceived and well researched novel that misses the mark in its execution.Long version: I was excited about this book. The premise was a premise of promise: a little Hawaiian girl is exiled to the leper colony of Moloka'i, torn from her family by the dread disease. She is befriended by a nun, who struggles with her own past and tries to reconcile her faith in God with the affliction she sees all around her. Historical fiction with heartrending human interest; oh, the tragedy! The potential for deep reflection on the nature of destiny and human resilience!Actually, Moloka'i does quite well on these counts. I frequently found it moving, and I loved the threads of loss that run through the whole story, the loss of Hawaiian statehood and ancient beliefs providing an excellent counterpart to the loss of physical identity suffered by the patients and the need to build new ways of living once their entire family structure had been ripped away from them.BUT...considering it as a novel, meh. Bring me a developmental editor, stat! I believe that the rules about point of view and structure exist to be broken, and rejoice whenever someone does it well. This wasn't done well. The POV swooped around from omniscient to intimate to somewhere out in left field until I was left quite dizzy...there is a glorious section in the last third or so where it stays firmly in the head of Rachel, the heroine, and I rejoiced, giving thanks and praise--and then mid-chapter, JUMP! we're back in choppy water. Queasiness ensued.And the research stood out all over the novel in little bumps.I would have taken this manuscript and shuffled all the chapters around like mad, ripping up the chronological treatment and putting the research/history where it belonged in separate sections, not suddenly popping up in the text like some sort of Resident Professor Narrator freezing the movie in the classroom to explain the context. Then I would have tied the rest firmly to Rachel's POV, perhaps with the end bit as some kind of epilogue because it was quite poignantly moving with the parallels between Rachel's experience and her daughter's. Or perhaps Ruth's POV could be in there from the start, actually giving the historical context...I think the problem is that the author never really committed to a novel. This reads more like a novelization of history, and sometimes like a proposal for a movie (the author's a screenwriter). It would make a pretty good movie, I think. But expecting us to swallow it as a novel implies that you give us the experience of a novel, and not something novelish.Overall, I'm happy to have learned a whole lot about this chunk of Hawaiian history, hence the three stars. Anyone got suggestions for further reading?

  • Thomas
    2019-05-25 04:11

    What is leprosy?Before I read this book, my answer would've been "a disease". From watching "Drake and Josh" I could've assumed that it had to do with a person's skin. Now, after reading Moloka'i, I would say the same thing - it is a disease, after all - but I might add that this is a disease that tests the strength of the human spirit, just as it did with Rachel Kalama.After a rose-colored mark indicating leprosy appears on her skin, seven-year-old Rachel is taken from her family to a quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here she is supposed to live the remainder of her short life, and die just like everyone else who has the disease. Rachel isn't willing to give up that easily though, and exceeds the expectations of those who thought that the disease would simply end her life. Soon she befriends others who have leprosy, and builds a new beginning on an island that was only known for the lives that had ended on it.Moloka'i is an epic that encompasses Rachel's entire life saga in 384 pages without feeling too rushed or too slow. Alan Brennert keeps the story flowing smoothly through Rachel's narrative, interspersed with wonderful descriptions of the Hawai'i-like setting and the occasional perspective of another character besides Rachel. This is one of those books in which the setting becomes like a second home to you - one of those books that you won't want to put down.Rachel proved to be quite the protagonist. She possessed an admirable determination, coupled with a realistic vulnerability that made her character likeable. As the book progresses readers will cheer for her as she faces obstacles ranging from family to love to death.My favorite aspect of this book was how much I learned about leprosy and its effects. I did learn about the actual disease itself - its sneaky symptoms, the terrifying disfigurements it causes, etc. - yet it was gut-wrenching to see how leprosy tore apart families and shattered the human heart. At least one's family would remain by them if they were diagnosed with cancer, but if they were diagnosed with leprosy, they wouldn't even have their loved ones to rely on. To see Rachel overcome that obstacle, and to see so many others find the willpower to survive through such hardship really makes me marvel at how strong humans can be and wonder why we don't show that strength more often.Overall, a great read. I would recommend Moloka'i to fans of historical fiction, books with plenty of pathos, and strong female protagonists.*cross-posted from my blog, the quiet voice.

  • Syl
    2019-06-24 05:12

    A very heart-rending book on Hawaiian leprosy sufferers of the late nineteenth century and twentieth century, told from the view point of Rachel, a hapless 6 year old who contracted the disease from her uncle and was brutally separated from her family to be incarcerated in a leprosy asylum on the island of Molokai for decades.This story highlights the courage and resilience of human beings in the wake of misery, suffering and hopelessness.I also came to encounter Father Damien vicariously and came to know of his not so public attributes .I treat leprosy (now exclusively called as Hansens diseases) on a day to day basis. .and with early diagnosis and prompt and adequate treatment this disease is completely curable. But once nerve and tissue damage sets in ...nothing can be done. Even nowadays we see patients with deformities and handicaps. So I could very well imagine how the bacteria must have ravaged the body before the advent of antileprosy drugs. I am awed by the book, the story, the people in it (albeit figments of imagination) and the tiny mycobacteria which constantly fight to maintain the upper hand.Would recommend this book to one and this is a study in tolerance, empathy and resilience.

  • Elizabeth Weltin
    2019-06-13 00:11

    I had high hopes for this book. Living in a Polynesia I was excited to learn more about what Hawaii was really like before it was a $1000 or less vacation, especially the aspect of the leper colony on Molokai.Unfortunately, the writing was very flat. The author is a LA screenwriter and you could tell. This would have been better if written by a Hawaiian I think. Someone who knows what it feels like to live in the tropics day in, day out. I was also disappointed by the story of the leper colony. It just seemed to have been cuted up and a regurgitation of facts. When the lighthouse was built. When they got electricity, etc. I think this was a good concept and it would have done better in another's hands. I rarely don't finish books, but I couldn't finish this one. I was just not captivated by the story.

  • Emily May
    2019-06-25 00:20

    I love it when historical fiction manages to be both informative about a time and place I knew nothing about, and emotionally crushing. Oh, okay, that may be a bit dramatic - it's not that much of a depressing book. But still, Rachel's story made me cry :(

  • Ace
    2019-06-04 02:23

    I don't need to reiterate how great this book is, there are many many 5 star ratings here on GR. I'm glad I finally got around to reading this sad story but I listened to this on Audible and I disliked the narrators reading style, but it wasn't so annoying that couldn't finish the book. The way in which the story is told sometimes seemed to switch to non-fiction mode and then back again into the Rachel's story. I wasn't sure what was bothering me about it until I worked this out. I like my fiction to not sound like homework for which there will be a test later on down the track :)I agree with the 5 star ratings, it really is a unique little bit of history that I learned a lot about... I just wish I had got to it sooner and in print rather than audio.

  • Jessica
    2019-06-22 01:23

    Honolulu, Hawaii. 1890. Rachel is seven years old. She lives with her mother, father, sister and two brothers. She goes to school. She plays jokes on her sister. She watches her mother in the kitchen. She lives just like any typical seven-year-old. Until the day she is arrested for leprosy. She is taken into custody and sent to Moloka’i, an island where lepers are quarantined, in order to keep the rest of the world safe. The general assumption is that people go to Moloka’i to die. But, as Rachel soon discovers, there is so much living to do before that happens! She surrounds herself with a new family; girls and boys, men and women, most of them sent there for the same reason. Though the life she and the others on Moloka’i lead is a trying one, restricted to live with an always present, always looming death, they experience a life that is not so different from the people on the other Hawaiian Islands and on the mainland. A first kiss, a first dance, a first love… And mixed in are also world firsts too! They welcome the 20th century with cars, planes, baseball, silent movies, talking movies, etc... The book follows Rachel, her entourage and their disease, as they grow; through the good and the bad. I didn’t realize just how much I enjoyed this book until I reached the very last page. As I was reading it, I thought to myself: ‘This is okay, not great, but okay’. But by the time I reached the last page, I had tears in my eyes. First, there was horror and revolt as I read about the way these sick people were treated. I had to remind myself that this was supposed to be late 19th century and early 20th, and not the year 2008. I understand this behavior came from ignorance, and the lack of science and technology and understanding. Then, the awe at how strong we really are, and how humans can cope with so much physically, and even more emotionally. I had to root for Rachel and her deformed friends, as they are the ultimate underdogs. Another aspect of this book was the author’s wonderful descriptions of the story’s backdrop. It was easy to imagine the sheer beauty of Rachel’s surroundings. I dreamt of traveling to Hawaii while reading this book. And the author definitely did his research. The book includes the historical events of the time, as well as the language of the location. Definitely a wonderful read. Aloha.

  • Anthony
    2019-06-03 05:40

    I really wanted to like this book. As the story progressed events became more and more labored and contrived. The main character Rachel did not seem to grow up in a believable way and continued to behave as a child might. I don't mind a bleak book but all the tragic events in Rachel's life were telegraphed to the reader well in advance. This book does excel in terms of describing Hawaiian history and appears to have been well researched.