January 5, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

RATING: Mmm...That's Good

Maloka'i is the story of a child named Rachel who contracts leprosy in Honolulu during the 1890s. She is separated from her family and sent to live on the island of Maloka'i. There she is quarantined in a leprosy colony called Kalaupapa. Rachel is a bright and spirited seven-year-old when she goes to live with the sisters at Kalaupapa and has hardly any symptoms at all. Reality sets in as she makes friends with the other children there and some of them begin dying from their illness. She finally meets a Japanese man named Kenji, who also has leprosy, and they marry and have a daughter together. But it is not all happiness for Rachel, even after sulfur drugs are discovered to cure her leprosy.

It is a very moving and vividly detailed story. It tugged at my heartstrings, made me smile, and made me cheer for Rachel, who went through so much. I enjoyed learning about the Hawaiian culture, the leprosy settlement (which I knew nothing of), and I enjoyed the characters in the story that Brennert brought to life.

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