April Hochstrasser's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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Jul 09, 12

Read in July, 2012

One day, when Rachel is seven, she notices she has a sore that won’t heal. She does her best to hide it, but it is eventually found and she is sent to a leper colony on Moloka’i. Gladly, her uncle Pono was sent there in 1891 and can take care of her, otherwise, she would be totally alone and apart from her family. The family back on Oahu is stigmatized and they face ostracization from the community because they had a daughter who caught leprosy.

The nuns who run the home for the girls under 16 are not happy about Pono taking care of Rachel and she must move to the community school to protect her from potential immorality outside the home.

Rachel is initially not happy, at age 7 she feels very alone. But she soon befriends the other girls and, most especially, one of the nuns who becomes integral in helping Rachel live through the happy and sad times that are to come. It turns out she has a mild form of the disease and lives a long life with few consequences of the disease until she is old. One of the most wrenching parts of the fact-based book is that she must give up her daughter for adoption because of her disease. She can see her, but only through a window, and she never gets to touch her daughter.

This is a very moving and endearing story. While a massive change like this might seem like the end of life for most, it’s a beginning and an opening to a whole new world for Rachel.
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