Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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Apr 05, 11

bookshelves: fiction, novel, bookclub, historical-fiction, reviewed, favorites, orphaned-and-quasi-orphaned-kids, gr-a, aaalt
Recommended for: everyone who can enjoy a well-crafted, engaging, perfect historical fiction-coming of age story
Read from March 29 to April 03, 2011 — I own a copy

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.
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Reading Progress

03/29/2011 page 1
0.0% "This is for my book club's April meeting. I'm going to start it today. Which means I won't finish until after one or both my The Land of the Painted Caves book arrives. And which means I'm going to be a tad late reading some of my GR book group books. So many books..."
03/29/2011 page 18
5.0% "One chapter read & I don't want to put it down so I'll keep reading. But my purchased copy of Jean Auel's book arrived, but I think I'll wait for my First Reads copy to arrive. I might find a new home for my purchased copy if my First Reads won book arrives by the time I want to start reading."
03/29/2011 page 32
8.0% "Completely absorbing. I'm loving it. I'm learning a lot too. Lots of pathos but lots of humor too."
03/30/2011 page 122
31.0% "Fabulous, although, despite the plentiful humor, it's breaking my heart."
04/01/2011 page 174
45.0% "This book is such a pleasurable read!!!"
04/01/2011 page 202
52.0% "Outstanding book! I'm not going to be able to review it or talk about it without it sounding like I'm using hyperbole!"
04/01/2011 page 202
52.0% "Hope to finish this Sunday, but I won't rush it. It's worth savoring."
04/02/2011 page 266
68.0% "I might put this book on my favorites shelf. So far, it is providing me with everything I love about reading."

Comments (showing 1-50 of 83) (83 new)


Chrissie This is on Kindle. Do you think I would like it? Do you come to care for the characters? Do you learn about Hawaiian traditions?


Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "This is on Kindle. Do you think I would like it? Do you come to care for the characters? Do you learn about Hawaiian traditions?"

Darn Goodreads! Chrissie, I JUST saw your 3/8 message. I am just starting it today so I can't say for sure, but I'd guess so. I hope to finish it in a week or less so I can let you know then.


Chrissie Well, it is NOT on Kindle so it doesn't matter. I am only buying Kindle books...... It does look good.


Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "Well, it is NOT on Kindle so it doesn't matter. I am only buying Kindle books...... It does look good."

It will be on Kindle for you eventually. So far, several pages in, it's excellent.


Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "Well, it is NOT on Kindle so it doesn't matter. I am only buying Kindle books...... It does look good."

Chrissie, When you can get it as a Kindle book, I think you'll love it. I've read only 2 chapters so far. But, the characters are great, I'm learning a ton, and while there is so much pathos, there is a lot of (for me unexpected) humor. It's completely absorbing. I hope to take time to read more this evening. I'm loving it!


Chrissie Laura totally loved it. What is terribly annoying is that it is available in Kindle format, but only for Americans. Europeans cannot buy the Kindle format OR borrow it for two weeks from an American who has purchased it.


Lisa Vegan Chrissie, I hope this unfairness to Europeans changes really quickly. It must be infuriating, especially because you need the Kindle.


Chrissie Yes, it isinfuriating.


Lisa Vegan Oh, it's breaking my heart but I am loving this book. Unless it goes really downhill, I know you'll love this book too, Chrissie. You should write Amazon and St. Martin's Press, which is the publisher for this book, and beg, complain, request, do whatever you can. And do it for each book you really want to get on the Kindle: write both Amazon and the books' publishers.


Chrissie I will be complaining a lot.......


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "I will be complaining a lot......."

You've every right and hopefully it will do some good, and if it does, other European readers will reap the benefit too.


Laura so glad you liked this book Lisa.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Laura wrote: "so glad you liked this book Lisa."

Loved it!!! I might not be able to post a review for a couple days though. I'm on my phone. I got knocked off the Internet with my home connection and it probably won't be fixed for a couple days.

I asked amazon.com.UK to get it on Kindle so Chrissie can read it. I tried to buy her a large print edition but unfortunately it's never been published with a large print edition.


message 14: by Diane D. (new) - added it

Diane D. Lisa, I really want to read this!


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Diane D. wrote: "Lisa, I really want to read this!"

Diane, You've got to read it! It's amazingly wonderful. I can't talk about it without it seeming as though I'm using hyperbole.


Chrissie Lisa, thanks for all your efforts!!!!!!!!!!!!!


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "Lisa, thanks for all your efforts!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I'm eager for you to be able to read it, Chrissie. Now, after all this hype, I hope you love it too.


Laura excellent review Lisa!!!


message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Laura wrote: "excellent review Lisa!!!"

Thanks, Laura. And, I just corrected 2 typos; hopefully, that's all there are. I cannot stop gushing about this book!!! You were so right that I'd love it. My non-Goodreads avid reading friends are hearing about it too. Now, I guess I should officially recommend it to some Goodreads' friends. I think I'm going to invite Alan Brennert to be a Goodreads' author member.


Laura Lisa wrote: "Laura wrote: "excellent review Lisa!!!"

Thanks, Laura. And, I just corrected 2 typos; hopefully, that's all there are. I cannot stop gushing about this book!!! You were so right that I'd love it. ..."


great idea Lisa, I hope he will accept your invitation.


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Laura wrote: "great idea Lisa, I hope he will accept your invitation. "

Me too. I've had no luck so far with the 10 or so authors I've invited so far.


Laura I just managed to invite a couple of authors specially when their contact is not updated


message 23: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Alan Brennert has an email address on his site. I suspect her has someone read his mail, but I hope he will join, or his agent/publisher for him.

Laura, Do you remember who you've invited?


Laura Virginia Rounding, Terence Morgan, Jennifer Vanderbes, Geneviève Chauvel, Suzannah Dunn but only the first 3 joined as GR authors.


message 25: by Laura (last edited Apr 04, 2011 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura to get their right e-mail isn't an easy task, on the contrary, since in many cases their homepages are not updated with the right contact info.


message 26: by Lisa (last edited Apr 04, 2011 06:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Laura, I know. I'll try again if I hear nothing. Good for you for getting 3 authors to join!!! That's great. Maybe the others will eventually.

I do wonder if I've sent invitations to incorrect addresses because I've never even hears back, not even a no thank you form letter. One author, Ellen Klages, lives in my city and I even know of someone who lives on her street, if she's still there that is.


Laura could be lack of interest or they are afraid of spams...


message 28: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Laura wrote: "could be lack of interest or they are afraid of spams..."

Yes. Good point, Laura. Either one. I always send links to my profile page and all the author program links. Perhaps I should give them instructions with using any links. Links from stangers can definitely be a problem.


Chrissie I loved your review - the enthusiasm and the clarity by which you point out exactly why it felt so special to you.


message 30: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "I loved your review - the enthusiasm and the clarity by which you point out exactly why it felt so special to you."

Well, I'm really glad my enthusiasm came across, but for you (and others) to see why I loved this book so much, you'll have to read it. Go, Kindle for Europe!!! Grrrr.


Chrissie Exactly. Cool that you invited the author!


message 32: by Diane D. (new) - added it

Diane D. Lisa, I also love to read Author's Notes at the end of a book I've really enjoyed. It can usually give me more insight into just how an author did such an amazing job. This book has been on my wish list and I'll be sure to pick it up.


message 33: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Diane, I love author's notes too, always, but especially for historical fiction books. I did wait until the end to read these and I'm glad I read the book as a story and, while I knew the author had done impeccable research, I just enjoyed it as a story, while knowing I was learning a lot about how life was in that time and place. It's a fabulous book! I'm glad you're going to be reading it.


message 34: by Diane D. (last edited Apr 05, 2011 08:29AM) (new) - added it

Diane D. Did you read The Kitchen House? It's historical fiction too, and after I finished I was like how did she ever write such a story? So the author's notes were terrific and really helped me understand how she did it.


message 35: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Diane D. wrote: "Did you read The Kitchen House? It's historical fiction too, and after I finished I was like how did she ever write such a story? So the author's notes were terrific and really hel..."

It's on my to-read shelf. And, I voted for your review of it. ;-)


message 36: by Diane D. (new) - added it

Diane D. :) Didn't remember that! Glad to hear it (again!)


Chrissie Diane, you made my day just now! I bought Kitchen House for my Kindle. I think I will maybe read that next? Great! I think author's notes are essential for historical fiction.


message 38: by Diane D. (last edited Apr 05, 2011 09:23PM) (new) - added it

Diane D. Oh Chrissie, let me know when you want to talk about it!

Lisa, I have not bought a book in ages (well, about a month :) and my next purchase will be Moloka'i :)


message 39: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Diane D. wrote: "Lisa, I have not bought a book in ages (well, about a month :) and my next purchase will be Moloka'i :) "

Ha! A month = the new "ages"? I actually read a library copy but I'm very tempted to buy it. I can't wait until you read it Diane because I want to hear what you think. If you like it even 1/4 as much as I do, you'll love it too.

I also want to read The Kitchen House; it is on my to-read shelf.


message 40: by Diane D. (new) - added it

Diane D. Lisa, I read Rebecca and The Kitchen House, loved them both, and both were library books. Now I am reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, also a library book, and I have a feeling I'm going to love it too. And when I love books, I want to own them!


message 41: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Diane D. wrote: "LisaAnd when I love books, I want to own them!"

Me too, although sometimes I restrain myself. I used to buy almost all my books; now I borrow most.


message 42: by Diane D. (new) - added it

Diane D. Lisa, I'm trying to do the same. I have such an abundance of books at home, so many unread! If I had half as many clothes as I do books, I'd be the best dressed woman on the block! LOL! Going to bed now, talk to you tomorrow :)


message 43: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 05, 2011 10:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Diane, we will have to wait a bit b/c we will be in France for a while. No :0( but still I am always happy there. I have started KH and yes, you sink right in. OMG you guys, I absolutley LOVE my Kindle.

ETA: Something is really crazy here.... it says this is message 1. It should be 41!


Chrissie Diane, we are both on line!!!!! Now mine says 43! Something weird was happening in the computer system.


message 45: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan We are all online. If Diane hasn't gone to bed. I'll be up at 6 and have a long day tomorrow, so I'm offline in a couple minutes. I haven't read at all today so will try to get into my novel until I can go to sleep. After just reading this book it's hard to want to get into any other book.

Chrissie, I am so happy you have that Kindle!!!! And, aside from your eyesight, it will also come in handy during your travels.


message 46: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 06, 2011 12:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Yup, but I am trying to stick to my self imposed rule of alternating betwenn reading a Kindle book and then a paper book. As a person, I am terribly stubborn..... If I tried to read one of each at the same time I KNOW I would always choose the Kindle ebook.

BTW my husband is still reading Love And War in the Apennines, recommended to me by Hayes. He reads much less than I do, but the advantage is he tells me every little bit. Love has come into the picture. It sounds good. And he explains all the military stuff so I really understand it! That is an advantage.


message 47: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, How many owned unread books do you have left?


message 48: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Thanks, Abigail. I'm glad I got my feelings across.


message 49: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 06, 2011 07:25AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Lisa, I really do not know but I can see that I have 131 on my to-read-soon shelf minus 8 which are kindles, so that makes 123. When I buy a book I put it one the "to read soon shelf", which is a bit of a joke b/c how do you read so many s-o-o-n! Particularly when I keep buying more. The problem is I have many others that are in Sweden and France and in fact here in Belgium, books I haven't bothered to register....... I am seriously sick when it has to do with books! I am only buying Kindle books now or maybe art paper books, stuff to look at. But I do not buy magazines! :0) Did you see that one I added entiteld; Portrait of a Turkish Family. Read a bit at Amazon and you too will HAVE to read it!!! I fell in love with the first two pages about a child being thrown in the air by his father. And YES, it is available on Kindle!!! G3 is very dangerous..... you order it and you have it in a minute or two. I have to see if it works in France ;0)


message 50: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, Thanks for the book rec.

Oh wow, I'm glad you're buying only Kindle books now. That's still many paper books left.

(I"ll get to your pm later. I am running late!)


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