Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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's review
Oct 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read in October, 2011

When we lived in San Diego, we used to hold Season-tickets to the Coronado Playhouse. It was our mutually agreed yearly Christmas present to each other. Our one little luxury at a time when our children were very little and needed our constant attention. One of the plays we saw there was "Damien", a monologue play of a Belgian Catholic Priest that served and helped the Leper Colony in Moloka'i during the mid 1800's.

Recently, my neighbor Tom was kind enough to lend me his Moloka'i novel. It is a Historical Fiction that begins shortly after Father Damien has passed away. The main character is fictitious, though she was created out of common experiences suffered by patients of that time who wrote journals. Other characters there are real, and though the story blurs the lines of what truly happened and what is the author's ingenuity of filling in the blanks, the result is a richly written account of lives fully lived in a place where they only came to die.

The story reads with fluidity and I was so captured by each chapter that though I squirmed to think of what was next to come, I could not help but to keep reading ahead, hopeful that somehow, in the wretchedness of life, humanity would somehow shine through. I was not disappointed.

This is a book I recommend for all of us to read, and thus I will ask my boys to read it as well. I hope that if we have the opportunity to travel to Hawaii sometime soon in the future, we can stop by Molokai and witness, even now that time has erased some of this agony on Earth, some of what the people with Hansen's disease lived through, and perhaps we can deposit some flowers in some of those graves. They are not forgotten.

My favorite quote: "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, like Crossen, choose to do harm to themselves and others. Others, like Kenji, bear up under their pain and help others to bear it." (pg 307)

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