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Moloka'i

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4.15  ·  Rating details ·  83,429 Ratings  ·  7,904 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published October 21st 2003)
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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)
Shannon There is a fair amount of sexual content in this book. In my opinion it could have easily been omitted. (my preference). There is some bad language…moreThere is a fair amount of sexual content in this book. In my opinion it could have easily been omitted. (my preference). There is some bad language also...but, not a lot.(less)
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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
...more
Hannah
Disappointing.

Underwhelming.

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
...more
Juliana
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
...more
James
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-fiction
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
...more
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
...more
Dem
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
...more
Elyse
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
...more
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
...more
Poonam
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
...more
Wendy
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sep-10, 4000-books, 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
...more
Camie
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.
...more
Karen
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
...more
Melki
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
...more
Erin
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
...more
Britany
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
Manju
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
Jasika
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 bad...it'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
Chrissie
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Laura
NO SPOILERS!!!

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
...more
Connie
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
...more
Warwick
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
Kathy
There's nothing quite like finishing a book and knowing that you now have a favorite to add to your list of favorite reads. While the story was as compelling a one as I've read, it was a learning novel for me, too. The absorption of Hawaii by the United States, the disease of leprosy or Hansen's disease, the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai (heck, the island itself), the island of Maui, early aviation. All of these subjects and more were presented in an amazing story by Brenner ...more
Emma
Aug 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author himself says at the end that this was really a fictionalised biography more than a fictional novel. This made sense to me because it read like a biography but I thought maybe it hadn't been deliberate, which just made it poor writing. However the author wanted to give full respect and acknowledgement to the people whose lives this book was based upon and for this I respect the author more.
It is clear he loves Hawaii.
I found this book quite slow with a lot of information dumping. I fou
...more
Thomas
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
...more
Jane
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
...more
Syl
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All readers, especially health care professionals
Recommended to Syl by: Apoorv
A very heart-rending book on Hawaiian leprosy sufferers of the late nineteenth century and twentieth century, told from the view point of Rachel, a hapless 6 year old who contracted the disease from her uncle and was brutally separated from her family to be incarcerated in a leprosy asylum on the island of Molokai for decades.
This story highlights the courage and resilience of human beings in the wake of misery, suffering and hopelessness.
I also came to encounter Father Damien vicariously and ca
...more
Elizabeth Weltin
I had high hopes for this book. Living in a Polynesia I was excited to learn more about what Hawaii was really like before it was a $1000 or less vacation, especially the aspect of the leper colony on Molokai.

Unfortunately, the writing was very flat. The author is a LA screenwriter and you could tell. This would have been better if written by a Hawaiian I think. Someone who knows what it feels like to live in the tropics day in, day out.

I was also disappointed by the story of the leper colony.
...more
Ace
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't need to reiterate how great this book is, there are many many 5 star ratings here on GR.

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this sad story but I listened to this on Audible and I disliked the narrators reading style, but it wasn't so annoying that couldn't finish the book. The way in which the story is told sometimes seemed to switch to non-fiction mode and then back again into the Rachel's story. I wasn't sure what was bothering me about it until I worked this out. I like my ficti
...more
Jessica
May 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to be in awe at people's resilience
Honolulu, Hawaii. 1890. Rachel is seven years old. She lives with her mother, father, sister and two brothers. She goes to school. She plays jokes on her sister. She watches her mother in the kitchen. She lives just like any typical seven-year-old. Until the day she is arrested for leprosy. She is taken into custody and sent to Moloka’i, an island where lepers are quarantined, in order to keep the rest of the world safe. The general assumption is that people go to Moloka’i to die. But, as Rachel ...more
Anthony
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. As the story progressed events became more and more labored and contrived. The main character Rachel did not seem to grow up in a believable way and continued to behave as a child might. I don't mind a bleak book but all the tragic events in Rachel's life were telegraphed to the reader well in advance. This book does excel in terms of describing Hawaiian history and appears to have been well researched.
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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  • Molokai
  • Shark Dialogues
  • The Last Aloha
  • Color of the Sea
  • Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln
  • Women of the Silk
  • Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)
  • The Blood of Flowers
  • The Calligrapher's Daughter
  • The Septembers of Shiraz
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  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser
  • Mudbound
  • The Dry Grass of August
  • The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai
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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 half a million copies since publication). He is also the author of the thought-provoking fantasy novel Time and Chance ...more
More about Alan Brennert...
“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.” 71 likes
“Surrounded by darkness yet enfolded in light” 39 likes
More quotes…