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Belonging to Heaven

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  212 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Descended from the Hawaiian royal line, Jonathan Napela became one of the first—and most influential—converts to the Church in Hawaii. A man of intelligence, social status, and wealth, he used his considerable position to further the gospel in his native land. He developed a lifelong bond of brotherhood with Elder George Q. Cannon, helping to translate the Book of Mormon i ...more
Published April 15th 2013 (first published April 1st 2013)
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Apr 17, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing
WOW!! This book is amazing! The first part tells the story of Elder George Q. Cannon and his mission to the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was known at the time. He starts gold mining in California and it was hard work that wasn't producing many results. When the men's assignment changes to go to Hawaii, the mines miraculously open up and produce enough gold to pay their way to Hawaii. They travel to Hawaii to preach to the white people who were living there, but Elder Cannon strongly felt that the ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Gail rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by Maria Cole, who lived in Hawaii as a child and then again with her own children and husband. It's the story of George Q. Canon's mission to Hawaii in the 1850s and one of his converts, Jonathan Napela. Jonathan's wife gets leprosy and he moves to Molokai to take care of her. The first half of the book was mostly Canon's mission experiences and the second half about Jonathan's life. I like the first half just fine, but the second half I really enjoyed and the re ...more
Dec 31, 2014 J. rated it did not like it
Shelves: religion, 2014-reads
When your 84-year-old, devoutly-Mormon grandmother gives you a book for Christmas, and then checks-in several times on your progress, just read the damn book.

And even if you quit going to church 10 years ago, and are tempted to write that the book is pure sentimental propaganda, devoid of any real human emotion, serving the fanciful historical views of the famed correlation department, and prostrating to the emotional needs of members whom detest anything more than black-and-white, the church-i
Melissa T
Aug 18, 2013 Melissa T rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure how to shelve this book, as the story is true, with all the main characters being true, but written as a story. Obviously the author took some liberties with conversations and such, but I'm assuming it's well researched.

I first heard this story at church and was touched and inspired. When I saw this book advertised at Deseret Book, I was excited to read it. That said, I'm not sure I love the way the book was written. If I had to give it a rating on that, it would be closer to 3 st
Jun 05, 2013 Nancy added it
Descended from the Hawaiian royal line, Jonathan Napela became one of the first—and most influential—converts to the Church in Hawaii. A man of intelligence, social status, and wealth, he used his considerable position to further the gospel in his native land. He developed a lifelong bond of brotherhood with Elder George Q. Cannon, helping to translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian and establish a gathering place for the Hawaiian saints in Laie, Oahu. But when his beloved wife, Kitty, was str ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Patti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Belonging to Heaven” by Gale Sears is the story of the first LDS missionaries to arrive in Hawaii in 1843. George Q. Cannon and his companions spent a few years learning the Hawaiian language and teaching the gentle Hawaiian people. Inspired to travel around the island of Maui, Elder Cannon meets Jonathan Napeli, who is descended from Hawaiian royalty, and his wife Kitty. They form a deep and enduring friendship that lasts the rest of their lives.

Eventually, Kitty develops the dreaded disease o
Feb 16, 2014 Jessie rated it it was ok
Shelves: lds-fiction
This was a book that seemed to be a bit confused about its message and purpose. It had some lovely parts and I learned a lot about the history of the early days of the LDS Church in Hawaii. But, the structure was somewhat confusing; the first hundred pages or so focused on one particular character, but then he mostly disappeared from the rest of the book as the focus switched to a different character. The book included detailed footnotes (some of which I found rather trivial and unnecessary), bu ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Monica rated it it was amazing
Belonging to Heaven is based on the first missionaries and coverts in the Hawaiian Islands. Historically researched using journals, Hawaiian, and LDS church records and histories an accurate and chronological base is established. Gale Sears then adds her gift of storytelling creating a memorable and thought provoking narrative. Touching and emotional I would highly recommend this to everyone.
Apr 07, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An ambitious project, Belonging to Heaven covers a span of 36 years from 1843 to 1879 and the setting ranges from California to the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawaii) to Salt Lake City, Utah.

This touching story is told in three sections titled aptly: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Over the course of the book, the main focus shifts from the earliest missionaries that were called to Hawaii - primarily George Q. Cannon - to one of the earliest Hawaiian converts - Jonathan Napela - and finally to the
May 19, 2014 Gayle rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. A very touching story about the beginnings of the LDS church in the Hawaiian Islands. The first part of the story focuses mostly on George Q. Cannon, one of the first missionaries sent to Hawaii, while the second part focuses more on one of the first converts, Jonathan Napela. I really enjoyed learning more about this part of the church's history and was inspired by Jonathan's story. I listened to the audiobook and wish I had access to the footnote references in the book to help me se ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Kent rated it really liked it
I finished it this morning, & loved the story of Jonathan Hawaii Napela, one of the earliest Native Hawaiian people to join the LDS Church back in the mid 1800s. He had received a dream that said to watch for a White man, who turned out to be George Q Cannon as a young man. It details the struggles & challenges Napela dealt with because of his friendship with Cannon, & later due to his joining the Church, and many years later, as he followed his beloved wife Kitty to the Leper colony ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious, history
I really liked this book. I like historical religious fiction, particularly when it's about a place and people that I know and love. I learned a lot about the history of Hawaii, especially as it related to the early years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the islands.

I loved hearing about George Q. Cannon's missionary experiences and Jonathan Napela's faith, courage, leadership, service, and sacrifice. It is sweet to see Elder Cannon and Brother Napela's relationship last th
Aimee (Getting Your Read On)
Apr 17, 2013 Aimee (Getting Your Read On) rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounding up

This is an LDS (Mormon) fiction book based on the true stories of Hawaiian native Jonathan Napela and George Q. Cannon, a Mormon missionary serving in the Hawaiian Islands. This book is based on religious beliefs.

This book, for me, was interesting. I love getting a history lesson in a story without really feeling like it's a history lesson. The history of the people in Hawaii is such a captivating one. Their love and deep respect for the land is inspiring to me. Hawaii is a
Apr 26, 2013 Rhonda rated it it was amazing


I listened to the book on my kindle and it turned out to be a good thing. It would have taken me forever to read the last quarter of the book through all my tears. I cried at tender moments, happy, sad and everything in between. I was on a seesaw with my emotions. I think of my hard times and they are not hard compared to what some face in the world.

I love the notes at the bottom that tell you what is true fact and where it came from. Makes journals important and keeping letters. Also
Sep 17, 2013 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Napela is a descendant of one of the great kings of Hawaii. He has great status, a loving wife, and holds a position as a judge. After the death of 2 sons, his wife, Kitty, comes to him with questions that he cannot answer about life after death, but he prays and prays for an answer.

George Q. Cannon is a young convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints called on a mission to serve in Hawaii at the age of 23. Though his call is to preach to the "white people" on the islan
Gale Sears has a passion and talent for historical fiction. I was reminded of this once again while reading Belonging to Heaven. This fictionalized retelling of the history of the LDS Church’s early beginnings in Hawai’i was full of memorable characters, spiritual experiences, and inspirational sacrifices.

I didn’t know much about George Q. Cannon or the events surrounding the early days of the Church in the Hawaiian Islands (then known as the Sandwich Islands). I haven’t seen any of the movies m
Elaine Dransfield
Jan 02, 2014 Elaine Dransfield rated it it was amazing
Having finished this amazing book, I decided to see what people had written in the way of comments. People always seem to have to do the same thing, tell the entire story rather than say how they felt about the book. Many people did say that the book moved slowly, however. I for one feel that this is the best book I have ever read. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, so the historical and especially spiritual impact had great meaning for me. I have also been to the ...more
Apr 19, 2013 Shauna rated it it was amazing
What amazing people walk this earth!

This story is based largely on George Q. Cannon's journals.

He was first called on a mission to work the gold claim on the California's American dig gold for the support of the Church.

After that he was called to serve as a missionary in the Sandwich Islands (the Hawaiian islands).

He and his companions were a little discouraged with the small amount of "white man" on the islands...(wait until you find out what Elder Cannon does about it :)

Here is a hi
Apr 25, 2013 L_manning rated it it was amazing
George Q. Cannon didn't know what to expect when sent to the Sandwich Islands, he didn't know what to expect. He found himself on the island of Maui as a young leader over other missionaries. Through guidance and revelation he decides the best way to teach the people is to learn the Hawaiian language. This takes him around the island of Maui, where he meets Jonathan Hawaii Napela. They form a quick bond, and Jonathan Napela joins the church and does great things. They translate the Book of Mormo ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Lorie rated it it was amazing
A great historical novel, excellently written, immaculately researched. This would be enjoyed by anyone of any background, although it is a story of the lives of George Q. Cannon, a 23 year old LDS missionary to Hawaii in 1850, and of his first Hawaiian convert, Jonathan Hawaii Napali, son of a Maui Chief. Both intelligent and courageous men lived through remarkable travails and triumphs with stalwart strength and faith. Cannon eventually became an Apostle of the LDS Church. Napali, soon an LDS ...more
Dec 10, 2014 Italy rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! It is historical fiction of Elder George Q. Cannon on a mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), how he struggled with shyness, learning the language and simply being young. He was wonderful, but then I totally fell in love with the Hawaiian culture, language and characters. I totally loved hearing spoken Hawaiian, and the way they say things. So beautiful.
A.L. Sowards
November 2013: Just listened to part one, and then our road trip was over and I didn’t have time to fit in the second half before the CDs were due back at the library. Slower paced than my normal fiction preferences, but the writing was well-done and it offered an interesting look at Hawaiian culture in the mid 1800s.

April 2014: Read the last half of the book for my Whitney reading. The last third of the book was definitely my favorite. Very touching. I had mixed feelings about the epilogue. It
Jul 19, 2014 Mindy rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, although it felt like two books to me. One about the opening of a LDS mission in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) by Elder George Q. Cannon and companions, and the other about one of his converts, Jonathan Napela. Both very interesting! I am super grateful for modern treatment of leprosy. What a trial for families, especially of little ones with leprosy. The separation would be awful. Both stories are based on real people and letters and journals help make it historicall ...more
Melanie Sorensen
Wonderful and moving historical fiction

I truly loved learning the history of Hawaiian islands and the Church, as well as the leper colony in Molokai through this enjoyable story. I came to love the characters, people who really lived, and I cried for their losses. This is a moving and inspirational read. I'm so glad I read it!
May 20, 2015 Diana rated it really liked it
This is a historical novel of George Q Cannon serving as a missionary in Hawaii. It then moves into following one of the converts through his life that ends with him and his wife living in a leper colony on Molokai. I was going to give it 3 stars but a book that made me cry at the end deserves at least 4.
Ramona McConkie
Aug 26, 2015 Ramona McConkie rated it liked it
3.5. I read this because I wanted to know more about the early leprosy colony in Hawaii as well as the early church there. Fascinating and inspiring story and people. I'm only giving it a 3.5 because I don't love the author's style. A little too watered down and verbose historical fiction.
Apr 17, 2013 Cathy rated it it was amazing
I was so excited to read this book about Jonathan Napela, he was mentioned in a show about the early LDS Church in Hawaii that I love and I'd been wanting to learn more about him ever since. This novel is well researched and just an amazing story about the life of Jonathon, his wife Kitty, and George Q Cannon, the man who is responsible for Jonathon being baptized. I loved the glimpse of early Hawaiian Latter Day Saints this book gave. I really loved the way it portrayed Jonathon and his wife, a ...more
Jun 16, 2015 Carrie rated it really liked it
A bit slow to start...ended up really caring for the people. Well written, lovely Hawaiian setting & culture. Those early saints were really something!
Feb 15, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it
LDS Historical Fiction taking place with the first missionaries, starring George Q Cannon. I liked learning about Hawaii and its first members.
Oct 29, 2014 Kiery rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, well written and fantastic story. Wasn't sure I'd like it at first, but I was very surprised! Makes you want to visit Hawaii!
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