Saturday, March 9, 2013

BOOK: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert, 384 pages

Wonderfully epic novel of both the twentieth century, and the life of a Hawaiian girl who contracted leprosy. We see how life being a leper changed with changing attitudes (which in some ways mirrors today's treatment of AIDS/HIV patients) and how life for everyone changed - movies, airplanes, electric lights. American world war two involvement is also covered, from Pearl Harbour to Japanese internment camps and the modern history of Hawaii to statehood.

Rachel is just a young child of seven when she is sent to the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i. Torn from her family, her resilient spirit eventually allows her to build a life on the island, while always dreaming of a cure. Brennert throws a lot of history and information into his novel, but it flows very well.  The progression of Rachel through childhood, teenage years, and into adulthood and the characters she meets are all layered and developed. The whole situation was terrible, and many places in the book brought me to tears, but it is ultimately an uplifting and happy book. And now I want to go to Hawaii!

also reviewed: ramya's bookshelf;