Julie's Reviews > Daughter of Moloka'i

Daughter of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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bookshelves: 2019, e-book, historical-fiction, netgalley, st-martin-s-press

Daughter of Moloka'I by Alan Brennert is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Vivid and poignant, very effective and emotional!

It took me a long time to get around to reading Moloka’i, and I deeply regretted putting it off for so long. However, on the positive side, having read it so close to the publication date of this long anticipated follow up, all the details were still very fresh in my mind. Remembering the many reasons why Ruth was placed for adoption so clearly, experiencing her story first hand, was more touching and heart wrenching and the story felt more powerful and intense.

To recap-
Ruth’s parents were both inflicted with leprosy and lived on the island of Moloka’i in Hawaii. Ruth was free of the disease, but her parents had to give her up so that she could live a full and happy life. Ruth is biracial- part Hawaiian and part Japanese. Her adoptive parents are Japanese, and Ruth is also blessed with having older brothers. Her life is good, her parents love her, but Ruth has to cope with racism and prejudice aimed at her because of her mixed race. She also experienced cultural misogyny and sexism. However, Ruth’s life changes forever, when her parents move from Hawaii to California, hoping to own and work their own land. Sadly, they were misled, and things didn’t work out for them quite the way they planned. However, Ruth grows up, gets married, and starts her own family. However, life as she knows it comes to an abrupt halt when the Japanese invade Pearl Harbor. Ruth and her family are among the many Japanese Americans rounded up and sent to the internment camps. Although she makes the best of the situation, it also leaves her embittered.

Eventually, the story merges with that of Ruth’s mother, Rachel, who is now widowed and declared free of her leprosy. The mother and daughter finally meet and forge a bittersweet relationship.

I strongly urge anyone considering this book to read the first Moloka'i beforehand. The story will not have the same impact if you are not aware of Rachel’s backstory and the hopes she had for Ruth.

The bulk of the story is centered around Ruth’s life in the internment camps and the horrible injustices bestowed on these American citizens. I’m glad this period of history is spoken of more frequently now, and more closely examined.

I never heard a great deal about the plight of the Japanese Americans during world war two, until a little over a decade or so back. It was not a topic that came up frequently, and when it did, it was quickly glossed over.

The more I learned about the conditions of the relocation camps, the way these families were stripped of everything they had worked for, the more mortified I became. This was certainly not a shining moment in US history. Although many years later, some acknowledgments and apologies were eventually forthcoming, and a pittance was given the survivors, it doesn’t come close to compensating for what these people endured and lost.

This is a period in history that should get more exposure, especially in the classroom. While I would like for us to learn from the past and be ever more diligent not to repeat our mistakes, I hold my breath, wondering when- not if- this same exact thing will happen again.

This story personalizes the struggles of those in California who were forced to live in the camps, and once released were forced to start building their lives all over again from scratch. Living through these times, seeing it from Ruth’s perspective certainly gave me pause. Ruth is a strong character, who endured much, felt deep convictions, and although she never fully released her bitterness, her life was enriched by her adoptive family, her husband and children, and eventually, by having the chance to forge a relationship with Rachel.

This novel has an entirely different tone from its predecessor. It’s not as tender, has a sharper edge to it, more befitting of the situation, I suppose. I think Ruth’s character is as sympathetic as Rachel’s, but the era of time the story is written in, as well as the dynamics between Ruth’s adoptive family, which was also quite intense at times, makes the atmosphere heavier and the characters tougher, but equally resilient.

I would caution against starting this one with preconceived notions. Don’t expect the same type of emotional elements, or tragic poignancy as Moloka’i. It is certainly different, but I appreciated it and found it to be a very compelling novel. I must confess, I enjoyed seeing Rachel and Ruth reunited, and although Rachel continued to suffer loss and lingering health issues, she lived a full life, as did Ruth, both women overcoming adversity, getting on with the business of life and living, and appreciating every moment they were alive – and FREE!

4 stars
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Reading Progress

October 15, 2018 – Shelved
October 15, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 9, 2019 – Started Reading
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: e-book
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: st-martin-s-press
March 31, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 67 (67 new)


message 1: by Leila (new) - added it

Leila I really must get the first book read Julie. This second one sounds so good.


Julie Leila wrote: "I really must get the first book read Julie. This second one sounds so good."

It does sound good! I have some library loans to finish, then I'm going to tackle this one! 😊🌷😊


message 3: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Lovely review Julie 🤗💕


Julie Maureen wrote: "Lovely review Julie 🤗💕"

Thank you, Maureen!! 😊🌷


message 5: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Masterson Terrific review, Julie! ❤️


message 6: by Leila (new) - added it

Leila Most interesting review Julie. I only have the first book on my shelves but haven't read it yet so I really must do so.


Julie Jennifer wrote: "Terrific review, Julie! ❤️"

Thank you, Jennifer!! 😊💕😊


Julie Leila wrote: "Most interesting review Julie. I only have the first book on my shelves but haven't read it yet so I really must do so."

Thank you, Leila!! I think you'll love both books. Highly recommend!! 😊💕😊


message 9: by Diane (new)

Diane Wallace Terrific review, Julie! good insight also ;)


Julie Diane wrote: "Terrific review, Julie! good insight also ;)"

Thank you, dear Diane!! 😊💕😊


message 11: by Rae (new)

Rae Fantastic review, Julie. Sounds like a very good read.


message 12: by Antoinette (new) - added it

Antoinette Terrific review, Julie! I read Molokai and loved it- thanks for the heads up that this one has a different impact.


message 13: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Fabulous review, Julie!


Brenda - Traveling Sister Wonderful review, Julie!


message 15: by KAS (new)

KAS Better late than never, Julie ;)) Glad you really enjoyed and wonderful review!! This cover is so gorgeous!! 🌷💚🌷


message 16: by Holly (new) - added it

Holly  B Looking forward to this one!


Julie Rae wrote: "Fantastic review, Julie. Sounds like a very good read."

Thank you, Rae!! This book had a lot of high expectations attached to it and I think it measured up admirably! 😊😊


Julie Holly wrote: "Looking forward to this one!"

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one, Holly! Happy reading!! 😊😊


Julie KAS wrote: "Better late than never, Julie ;)) Glad you really enjoyed and wonderful review!! This cover is so gorgeous!! 🌷💚🌷"

Thank you, KAS!! I love the cover art for these books, too!! 💕🌷😊


Julie Brenda - Traveling Sister wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie!"

Thank you, Brenda!! 😊🌷💕


Julie Antoinette wrote: "Terrific review, Julie! I read Molokai and loved it- thanks for the heads up that this one has a different impact."

Thank you, Antoinette!! It does have a very different atmosphere, but it was a compelling novel in its own right! 💕🌷😊


Julie Meredith wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie!"

Thank you, Meredith!! 😊🌷😊


Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Fab review, Julie! So glad you enjoyed it. 💛


Julie Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* wrote: "Fab review, Julie! So glad you enjoyed it. 💛"

Thank you, Mary Beth!! 😊🌷😊


message 25: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Terrific review, Julie!! :)


Julie Deanna wrote: "Terrific review, Julie!! :)"

Thank you, Deanna!! 😊🌷💕


message 27: by Farah ファラ (new)

Farah ファラ Great review as always, Julie :)


Julie Farah wrote: "Great review as always, Julie :)"

Thank you, Farah!! 💕😊💕


message 29: by Tina (new)

Tina Nice review Julie! :)


Julie Tina wrote: "Nice review Julie! :)"

Thank you, Tina!! 💕😊🌷


Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin Excellent review dear, Julie 😊💕🌸


Jaline - (on 2/3 hiatus) Wonderful, inspiring review Julie! :)


message 33: by JV (semi-hiatus) (new)

JV (semi-hiatus) Super review, dear Julie! 🤗🥰


message 34: by Paromjit (new)

Paromjit Brilliant and thoughtful review, Julie....and so insightful. 👌💙💙


message 35: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn What a great review, Julie. And, yes, I am in total agreement with you that the shame of the Japanese Internment during WWII should be taught in schools, as well as the signs of the rise of Fascism. Frightening.


message 36: by Angela M (new)

Angela M Terrific review, Julie. Another friend who has enjoyed these books. Maybe that’s a sign I should get to them.


Peggy Great review! Loved the first book and can't wait to read this one!


James Your review made me relive the novel - terrific!


message 39: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Terrific review, Julie! I need to read both


Julie Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ wrote: "Excellent review dear, Julie 😊💕🌸"

Thank you, dear Melissa!! 🌷😊💕


Julie Tammy wrote: "Terrific review, Julie! I need to read both"

Thank you, Tammy!! YES! I think you will love both books! 💕


Julie James wrote: "Your review made me relive the novel - terrific!"

Thank you very much, James!! 😊


Julie Peggy wrote: "Great review! Loved the first book and can't wait to read this one!"

Thank you, Peggy!! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!! 😊💕😊


Julie Angela M wrote: "Terrific review, Julie. Another friend who has enjoyed these books. Maybe that’s a sign I should get to them."

Thank you, Angela!! I think you would appreciate both books!! 😊💕😊


Julie Carolyn wrote: "What a great review, Julie. And, yes, I am in total agreement with you that the shame of the Japanese Internment during WWII should be taught in schools, as well as the signs of the rise of Fascism..."

Thank you, Carolyn!! Couldn't agree more!! 😊💕


Julie Paromjit wrote: "Brilliant and thoughtful review, Julie....and so insightful. 👌💙💙"

Thank you very much, Paromjit!! 😊💕


Julie JV ❄️☃️❄️ wrote: "Super review, dear Julie! 🤗🥰"

Thank you so much, JV!! 💕😊


Julie Jaline wrote: "Wonderful, inspiring review Julie! :)"

Thank you, dear Jaline!! 💕🌷😊


message 49: by Jen (new)

Jen Great review - I still need to read the first one!


message 50: by Numidica (new)

Numidica Great review Julie. The CEO of a company I worked for was interned in one of the camps in WW2 as a boy. He talked about his experience, and how his parents had to start over with nothing. My grandmother was assigned as postmaster at the Tule Lake camp toward the end of the war, and my mother spent some time there with her as a girl. I think my mom's sense of justice was strengthened by what she saw at Tule Lake. By the way, the story of the 442nd Combat Team, composed entirely of volunteers from the camps is a poignant one. They were the most decorated regiment in WW2; twenty-one medals of honor.


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