Saturday, June 15, 2013

Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert

Barnes & Noble

This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i 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, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end---but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story" (

Dear Alan Brennert,

Aloha!  I must apologize for not having read this book sooner.  It's been on my To Read list for quite some time, and I even own the audiobook.  I should have listened to my friends and read your novel sooner.  

I am in love.

Rachel is my new favorite person.  I don't care that she's a fictional character.  She is strong.  Caring.  Quick-witted.  I can't imagine being a young child separated from my family and sent to live in a new place with complete strangers.  Though Rachel's first few years are tough, she is tougher.

I was completely captivated by her life, by the Hawai'i you described (I miss it!), and by the clash of cultures throughout Rachel's time in the settlement.  I cried ugly tears (stupid onion-cutting ninjas!) at several points, but the heartache was soon replaced with understanding.

What a powerful novel.

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