Regina Lindsey's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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This book can best be summed up in a quote from Sister Catherine, "I've come to believe that how we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or death is the true measure fo the Divine within us...I use to wonder, why did God give children leprosy? Now I believe God doesn't give anyone leprosy. He gives us, if we choose to use it, the spirit to live with leprosy, and with the iminence of death." (pg 307)

Set in Kalaupapa, a "leper colony" on the island of Moloka'i, the story spans the years 1891 -1970. Seven year old Rachel is discovered to have Hansen's Disease (leprosy). By edict of the Board of Health, Rachel is torn from her family and sent into exile on Molokai. Under the care of the Franciscan Nuns (seemingly abandoned by most of her family), Rachel grows up in the colony, builds a family, and becomes part of a community.

Brennert does an excellent job of integrating historical characters into a fictional story that was beautifully written. He does justice to those who championed to make Kalaupapa a place where people could "come to live and not come to die". It certainly makes me want to learn more. Furthermore, Brennert shows the struggle between two cultures at crossroads, particularly as it related to traditional customs vs. introduction of Christianity to the island. Through this story the reader can learn of Hawaii's rich history, the culture of the island, and some wonderfuly mythology. You see the advancement of technology and pop culture as it is slowly introduced to the colony with each wave of new patients.

This was a re-read for me for my f2f book club. I had wondered if I would enjoy it as much the second time around because one thing I love in historical fiction is when I'm introduced to a new concept. The first time I read it head I was completely taken in by the manner in which authorities approached those with this disease and the colony. However, I found the story the second time around was strong enough to carry it. The character development and the portrayal of relationships is excellent. I still love it.
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01/04 marked as: read

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Book Concierge I also loved this novel. A good companion NON-fiction is John Tayman's The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai

Regina Lindsey Book Concierge wrote: "I also loved this novel. A good companion NON-fiction is John Tayman's The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai"

Thanks! I will add that to my TBR!

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