Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
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.
I had read the description for Moloka’i and immediately added it to my TBR. I was lucky enough to find a copy of it at a used book sale last year.
I often find many books this length usually end up having a lot of filler and random descriptions and find myself not as engaged in the story. That was not the case with this book. I read this whole thing in a single day and was engaged from beginning to end. Moloka’i was not only one of the best historical fictions that I read in 2018, it was one of the best I’ve ever read.
We follow Rachel from a very young age, before she is diagnosed with leprosy to her journey to Moloka’i and finally the adventures and experiences she has throughout the rest of her life. Every word of this story has a purpose. I felt so many emotions reading about Rachel’s life.
The main reason I finally started this book was because I requested an ARC from NetGalley for Daughter of Moloka’i and I am so glad I did!
If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially if you’re interested in leprosy, I highly recommend this book.
Thanks for reading!
Continue on to read my review of Daughter of Moloka’i.
Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR MOLOKA’I THE PREQUEL
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.
The book follows young Ruth from her arrival at the Kapi’olani Home for Girls in Honolulu, to her adoption by a Japanese couple who raise her on a farm in California, her marriage and unjust internment at Manzanar Relocation Camp during World War II—and then, after the war, to the life-altering day when she receives a letter from a woman who says she is Ruth’s birth mother, Rachel.
DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA′I expands upon Ruth and Rachel’s 22-year relationship, only hinted at in MOLOKA′I. It’s a richly emotional tale of two women—different in some ways, similar in others—who never expected to meet, much less come to love, one another. And for Ruth it is a story of discovery, the unfolding of a past she knew nothing about. In prose that conjures up the beauty and history of both Hawaiian and Japanese cultures, it’s the powerful and poignant tale that readers of MOLOKA′I have been awaiting for fifteen years.
Since I enjoyed Moloka’i so much, I was really excited to read the sequel. This story follows Rachel’s daughter, Ruth. There is some crossover between the two books, but it wasn’t overdone. I also enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first. I just didn’t find Ruth’s story as engaging as Rachel’s. I think a part of this is I am somewhat more familiar/ not completely ignorant of concentration camps and the mistreatment of humans in history, whereas with Moloka’i, I didn’t know the first thing about leprosy.
I do think Daughter of Moloka’i is worth reading if you enjoyed Moloka’i. Alan Brennert also has a beautiful style of writing that transports the reader into the story.