Ruth's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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Jun 21, 2012

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bookshelves: historical

I Finished reading Molokai last night. It is about a young girl who grows up in the leper colony in Hawaii in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Overall it was slow, and I really wanted to be more emotionally invested in the main character, but somehow she seemed flat. However it was easy to read and had a few qualities that made it worthwhile. The social and medical history of leprosy during the 80 year course of the book was fascinating. Author Alan Brennert seemlessly blended this and the culture of Hawaii with the storyline, even managing to include the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese interment without overpowering the plot. Several side characters were intriguing and had more depth than the main character, Rachel. These included her aunt Haleola who still practiced the old Hawaiian traditions and Leilani, a transsexual for whom Hansen's disease was a blessing due to some very interesting biochemistry. The most moving and most interesting portion of the book occurs at the end, where two ironies exposed by the author provoke a great deal of thought and satisfaction in the reader, which is unexpected because when beginning the book, one assumes the most heartfelt and horrifying moments would occur as individuals grapple with the disease and how it changes their bodies and their lives. If any of the history seems intriguing I recommend the read, but if you are a character driven reader, then perhaps this is not the book for you.
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