Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

78%

6 Critic Reviews

Leprosy may seem a macabre subject, but Brennert transforms the material into a touching, lovely account of a woman's journey as she rises above the limitations of a devastating illness.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

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 replace the family she's lost: a native healer, Haleola, who becomes her adopted "auntie" and makes Rachel aware of the rich culture and mythology of her people; Sister Mary Catherine Voorhies, one of the Franciscan sisters who care for young girls at Kalaupapa; and the beautiful, worldly Leilani, who harbors a surprising secret. At Kalaupapa she also meets the man she will one day marry.

True to historical accounts, Moloka'i is the story of an extraordinary human drama, the full scope and pathos of which has never been told before in fiction. But Rachel's life, though shadowed by disease, isolation, and tragedy, is also one of joy, courage, and dignity. This is a story about life, not death; hope, not despair. It is not about the failings of flesh, but the strength of the human spirit.

 

About Alan Brennert

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ALAN BRENNERT grew up in Edgewater, New Jersey, at the foot of the Palisades. He won an Emmy Award in 1991 for his work as a writer-producer on L.A. Law, and was nominated for two other Emmy Awards as well as a Golden Globe. He won a Nebula Award for his story "Ma Qui." The author of the national bestsellers Moloka'i, a "Bookies" award-winner for Book Club Book of the Year, and Honolulu, winner of Elle's Lettres 2009 Grand Prix for Fiction, he lives in Sherman Oaks, California.
 
Published April 1, 2010 by St. Martin's Press. 400 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Moloka'i
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on May 11 2010

A gritty story of love and survival in a Hawaiian leper colony: more a portrait of old Hawaii than a compelling narrative . . . Not a comfortable read, but certainly instructive.

Read Full Review of Moloka'i | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Jan 01 2008

Leprosy may seem a macabre subject, but Brennert transforms the material into a touching, lovely account of a woman's journey as she rises above the limitations of a devastating illness.

Read Full Review of Moloka'i | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Suite 101

Good
Reviewed by Francine Brokaw on Dec 01 2009

This is a gripping, page-turning novel filled with grief and hope . . . The saga is spellbinding and the story-telling is nothing short of brilliant.

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Pajiba

Excellent
Reviewed by Valyruh on Jan 01 2008

A beautifully-wrought tale of Hawaii’s turn-of-the-century leper colony, told with careful attention to historical detail, political context, cultural sensitivity, and with total respect for the humanity of the colony’s quarantined residents.

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Book Buzz

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Chain on Feb 09 2012

This book blew me away with its tragedy, its emotion and its impact. It’s a heavy book, but one I’d recommend to anyone looking for a good read.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Tory T on Mar 20 2014

Despite the tragic and unfortunate circumstances, this is a heartwarming story of the power of friendship and the determined will of Rachel Kalama in a leper colony in old Hawaii. A beautiful book that is a must read.

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Reader Rating for Moloka'i
89%

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