Larisa's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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Aug 28, 08

bookshelves: book-club-picks
Recommended to Larisa by: Janice
Read in August, 2008

I stayed up until 2 a.m. finishing the last 100 pages of this book, stifling my tears so as not to wake up my husband. Needless to say this book is heart-breaking at times but also uplifting.

The story follows the life of Rachel, who at the age of 7(?) is suspected of having leprosy and forced to leave her family to live in a hospital under quarantine and eventually shipped to the live out the rest of her days in a secluded leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. Rachel's life on the island, which is at first virtually a prison but slowly turns into a home, has all the ups and downs of anyone's life but magnified given the intensity and isolation of her circumstances.

The author did a great job of writing from the POV of a woman in my opinion, unlike a few books I've read recently - ahem, James Patterson. It is from Rachel's POV that most of the story is told, but we get occasional insights into some of the other main characters' thoughts and emotions - Rachel's dad, the nun at the girls' home on the island, her adopted aunt, her husband. Their insights paint a vivid picture of the devastation Hansen's disease wreaked on the patients, their families, care-takers and the community at large.

I enjoyed this book because it opened my eyes to a problem to which I had never given much thought. It also is a beautiful story of the power of the human spirit.
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