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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  95,341 ratings  ·  8,839 reviews
Moloka'i is the story of Rachel Kalama, growing up in Honolulu in the 1890's, who at the age of 7 is taken from her family and sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published 2011 by Griffin (first published October 21st 2003)
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Lanette It's there, but not graphic. I don't have a high tolerance and I wasn't offended.
Anya The content, in my opinion, is too much for 7th graders. High School?..maybe. But some content and scenes are too inappropriate for younger aged…moreThe content, in my opinion, is too much for 7th graders. High School?..maybe. But some content and scenes are too inappropriate for younger aged children. (less)

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4.16  · 
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 ·  95,341 ratings  ·  8,839 reviews

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Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert is a 2004 St. Martin’s Griffin publication. (I read the 2011 Kindle version.)

I know what you're thinking. ‘You haven’t read this book yet?’

Over the years, this book has been recommended to me on more than one occasion, but I just never felt an urgent pull towards it. So, here we are in 2019 and I am just now getting around to reading it.

Although, to be honest, it was the invitation to read the follow up to this book, that gave me the added incentive to work this one
Lisa Vegan
Dec 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who can enjoy a well-crafted, engaging, perfect historical fiction-coming of age story
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
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
St. Martin's Press recently offered me the book "Daughter of Moloka'i" for review, which I accepted. However, when I read its synopsis, it hearkened back to its preceding tome, "Moloka'i", which was a huge bestseller originally published in 2003. As of this writing, the original book is on sale for kindle at $2.99 on amazon, so I decided to purchase it and read it prior to reading its sequel. I expected this to be a quality book because of its rave reviews, and I wasn't disappointed. I don't usu ...more
Alan Brennert's Moloka'i is a beautifully written and moving tale of a young girl's interaction with a leprosy colony throughout her life time. The impacts on her life as she grows older are tremendous and she loses friends and family around her fighting her own battles to survive.

The story and characters will tug at your heartstrings and push you into thinking more about your own life -- and the good you have in it. If you're able to hear someone else's plight to survive, and you can empathize


Squandered potential.

Lacks "soul"

These are a few of the things that immediately sprang to mind after finishing Molika'i. After reading several 2 star reviews here on Goodreads by more gifted reviewers then myself, I really can't add much more without becoming repetitive.

Suffice it to say, this book had so much potential. So much possibility. And although a vast majority of readers thought it met (and exceeded) those parameters, for me it fell flat.

I wanted my soul to
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, delves into the crazy idea that people don’t have to be miserable when the world around them is. Moloka’i is another such book. The message: life isn’t over until it’s over.

Separated from everything dear to her, the heroine of this book, Rachel, learns at a young age that life can still provide her with simple joys—and profound fulfillment. And though she spends many moments peeking into the abyss of despair, she also spends moments rescu
Elyse Walters
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: I never wrote a full review of this book. I read it before I joined Goodreads. --Its 'still' a favorite!
If you've never read about the ways the community reacted to leprosy during its day --this book gives you the experience. (pretty sad)
A young girl is removed from her family --sent to the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'.
We meet many vibrant characters on the island and watch Rachel grow up --I laughed -and cried. This story has stayed with me for approx. 13 y
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moloka'i is a book that sums up for me why I love historical fiction. I need to learn something with each book that I read and and I love my history to read like fiction and with Moloka'i you get all these wonderful elements and more.

I really enjoyed this novel and I had thought from reading the blurb that this was going to be a depressing read and but Alan Brennert has a way of telling a story and getting the point across without dragging the Novel down and making it depressing. I loved the wa
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, is part of a big, loving Hawaiian family, and dreams of seeing the far-off lands that her father, a merchant seaman, often visits. But at the age of seven, Rachel and her dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from her family, she is sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i.

In her exile she finds a family of friends to repl
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deeply moving.

A touching testimony to the human spirit and what ohana really means.

This one will stay with me.

Update: The companion novel to this book is being released tomorrow, February 19th!

If you haven't read this book yet, there's still time!!! You won't regret picking this up, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction.
This is an ambitious novel that covers many tumultuous and eventful decades of history.

It should also be subtitled When Every Bad Thing Happens to One Person.

You don't expect a novel about a leper colony to be the feel-good read of the year, but gee willikers...

I was reminded of the moment in films when one character says "It can't get any worse than this!" and immediately it starts pouring.

Having leprosy and being snatched away from loved ones is not BRUTAL ENOUGH. Being exiled and forced to l
Lance Greenfield
All because of fear

Unfounded fear, unbounded love, exile, cruelty, death, suffering, prejudice and, most of all, sacrifice. It is all there, in this beautiful story.

There is already enough description of the actual story on the fly leaf and all of the other reviews, but this is a wonderful book. It is well researched, and clearly based on fact. If any aspiring writer wants a lesson in character development, they need look no further than Moloka’i. There are so many prominent characters in this b
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4000-books, sep-10, feb-17
I nominated and re-read this novel for book club and was thrilled when our members felt the same way about this story as I did.
I have yet to come across an author who not only writes heart breaking yet heart warming stories but also the beautifully artistic way he depicts the beauty that is the Hawaiian islands.
Rachel, the narrator, is one of the strongest characters I've had the pleasure to live through twice. Her story is powerful and one that has stayed with me for seven years thus far.
I coul
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Karen by: Minooka Bookies
Shelves: my-5-star-reads
All I can say is that this book broke my heart. Over and over again.

It reminded me of my response to the book The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, as it shed light on a time and place in history in which I was very ignorant. In the course of reading The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I learned something about the Internment of Japanese Americans (in Seattle area) during WWII.

In the case of Moloka'i, I learned much about the leper colony on this small island of Hawaii in the la
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"God doesn't give anyone leprosy. He gives us, if we choose to use it, the spirit to live with leprosy, and with the imminence of death. Because it is in our own mortality that we are most divine."
Anyone who knows my families health history will know why this book spoke to me. There's nothing like a heaping helping of illness to change ones perspective on life. Rachel is just seven years old when she is taken from her family and banished to the island Moloka'i having been found to have Leprosy.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
4.5 stars

This story was an eye-opener. It deals with the topic of Leprosy also known as Hansen's disease...

Frankly speaking I never thought much about Leprosy and ashamed to say neither did I know much about this disease. The only thing that came to mind when hearing the word Leprosy is distorted features.....

This story is based in the late 19th century when Leprosy was a major disease and there was no known cure for the same.
This is a fictional story of a Leprosy patient based on true histo
Em Lost In Books
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Moloka'i is tale of Rachel. She was diagnosed with Leprosy at an early age. As was the tradition, she had to leave her family and go to a far away place called Moloka'i. Severed from loved ones, initial days at Moloka'i were very tough for her. Only consolation was the presence of her uncle Pono at the Island. But soon Rachel comes to terms with her new life at this new place. She made friends, found love and solace but also went through the pain of losing and giving up loved ones for their own ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
It was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. I read this a few months ago prior to reading Daughter of Moloka’i, which I also highly recommend.
Jun 17, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Surely the worst book of which I have ever read half. I kept thinking, "No self-proclaimed best seller can be THIS's got to get better, its GOT to get BETTER!" But it didn't. I picked it up at the book store after visiting Lana'i, Hawaii for the first time and becoming enraptured by the culture and the land there, and fascinated by what the people must have been like pre-colonialism. From page one I knew there was little hope for this "historical fiction" book to be better than trite, b ...more
I was watching a high speed car chase on television yesterday and something ACTUALLY HAPPENED. This is amazing, because Los Angeles probably generates about 3 high speed car chases a week and they are all INCREDIBLY BORING. This is because there is approximately 2353459845 miles of high way in Los Angeles and all of it is full of cars, all the time, making the general highest speed for a high speed car chase about, ohhhhh.... 20 mph.

(I guess that technically means there's actually about 23534598
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a heartbreaking story-- one that always seemed to seep desolation and loneliness. I was prepared to be emotionally invested and from one tragic event to the next I didn't full lose it until the very end. (view spoiler). Rachel, the narrator is one of the strongest characters I've had the pleasure to live through. She is shipped to Moloka'i at 7 years old because she tested positive to Lepros ...more
Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
This richly imagined novel, set in Hawaii more than a century ago is an extraordinary epic of a little known time and place -- and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven year old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far off lands like her father who is a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose colored mark appears on her skin and those dreams are stolen from her. She is taken from her home and family and sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined lepros
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Several months ago, I was offered an ARC from the publisher for Alan Brennert’s newest novel Daughter of Moloka’i (which is scheduled to be published in February). At the time, I skimmed the brief synopsis of the book that came with the email and that, along with the knowledge that the book would be in the historical fiction genre (one of my favorite genres), was enough for me to make the decision to accept the ARC I was offered. Thinking at the time that the book was a standalone novel, it wa ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Laura

I want to make it very clear; those of you who are looking for a book of historical fiction on life in Hawaii, look no further - this is your book. Do not make the mistake I made by first trying Shark Dialogues. I could not complete Shark Dialogues. Moloka'i will teach you about life in Hawai through the 1900s. It will teach you about leprosy, today called Hansen's Disease. I thought I knew quite a bit about this disease. This book proved me wrong. I learned so much. This book brin
Connie G
In 1891, Rachel Kalama shows the first signs of leprosy as a seven-year-old. She is quarantined by the Inspector of Health and banished to the Hawaiian island of Molola'i. This is the story of her life, historical fiction based upon the actual settlement of lepers at Kalaupapa.

The story shows the horror of the infected person being ripped from a family, and the shame that was brought on the family that remained behind. Devoted nuns and brothers selflessly cared for the children of Kalaupapa, try
By-the-numbers ‘exotic’ historical fiction about the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Moloka‘i at the end of the nineteenth century. The language is an ungainly mixture of anachronistic modernisms (‘she gave him the stink-eye’), boring clichés (‘harsh glare’, ‘warm glow’), and metaphorical flourishes that fall flat (‘Dorothy felt something wet fall on her leg, unexpected as a drop of rain on a sunny day’). Brennert is a veteran screenwriter for shows like L.A. Law, and much of the dialogue ...more
What is leprosy?

Before I read this book, my answer would've been "a disease". From watching "Drake and Josh" I could've assumed that it had to do with a person's skin. Now, after reading Moloka'i, I would say the same thing - it is a disease, after all - but I might add that this is a disease that tests the strength of the human spirit, just as it did with Rachel Kalama.

After a rose-colored mark indicating leprosy appears on her skin, seven-year-old Rachel is taken from her family to a quarantin
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: my local library. A Goodreads Effect book, meaning that I read it because I'd seen it talked about on GR.

Sigh. Verdict if you want the short version: a brilliantly conceived and well researched novel that misses the mark in its execution.

Long version: I was excited about this book. The premise was a premise of promise: a little Hawaiian girl is exiled to the leper colony of Moloka'i, torn from her family by the dread disease. She is befriended by a nun, who struggles with h
95% | A

You should read this book if you're into:
Well-written and engaging historical fiction, Hawaiian culture, following characters throughout their lifespans, the history of leprosy in Hawaii, hopefulness in impossible to imagine circumstances, resilient and inspiring main characters
Emily May
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love it when historical fiction manages to be both informative about a time and place I knew nothing about, and emotionally crushing. Oh, okay, that may be a bit dramatic - it's not that much of a depressing book. But still, Rachel's story made me cry :(
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Did you think the lepers should have been banished? 33 163 Jun 19, 2019 10:08AM  
Rachel's Mother: Guilt or Shame 1 2 Jun 19, 2019 09:59AM  
Books With A Buzz: Moloka‘i (3/13/2019) 1 4 Mar 11, 2019 04:03PM  
Play Book Tag: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert - 4.5 stars 11 23 Dec 12, 2018 09:36AM  
Play Book Tag: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert 3.5 stars 5 25 Nov 26, 2017 02:18PM  
Reader's Choice B...: July 2017 - Moloka'i 7 12 Jul 31, 2017 02:12PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert 1 14 Sep 24, 2016 08:10PM  

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Alan Brennert is the author of the historical novels Palisades Park, Honolulu (chosen one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post), and Moloka'i, which won the 2006 Bookies Award, sponsored by the Contra Costa Library, for the Book Club Book of the Year (and has sold over 600,000 copies since publication). It was also a 2012 One Book, One San Diego selection. He has won an Emmy Award and ...more

Other books in the series

Moloka'i (2 books)
  • Daughter of Moloka'i (Moloka'i, #2)
“Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master.” 83 likes
“Surrounded by darkness yet enfolded in light” 51 likes
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