The powerful debut novel from Alan Brennert, Moloka’i tells the story of Rachel Kalama, a seven-year-old Hawaiian girl who contracts leprosy and is quarantined on the island of Moloka’i during the 1890s. Separated from her family and forced to grow up in the leper colony of Kalaupapa, Rachel experiences intense isolation. But she remains strong, finding moments of joy, and even love. Rich in Hawaiian history, this novel proves itself a stellar piece of historical fiction.
©2003 Alan Brennert (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
“Compellingly original … Brennert’s compassion makes Rachel a memorable character, and his smooth storytelling vividly brings early twentieth-century Hawaii to life.” (Publishers Weekly)
Yes. This book, and the people who populate it, are complex and not just characatures - from the nun who struggles with her faith and resists her calling, to the people who populate Moloka'i itself, to the government officials who say one thing and do another.
As other reviewers have said, the narration was ok (accents were great, but narrative pacing too slow). There were portions, particularly in the middle of the book, that could have been shortened. But for a debut novelist, Brennert did a remarkable job here!
Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps a shorter one. A book the length of Moloka'i seemed to exhaust her... I got about 3/4 of the way through it and just had to read it in print.
A Family of Exiles
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
One of my all time favorite listens and the story turns out to be fictional.The heroine is shipped off to Molokai at a young age.Stripped from her family because of a misunderstood disease.She lives were here uncle and is taken by the Catholic church for a time.She meets a young Japanese leper and they get married.He dies tragically before they are given a clearance to go back to Oahu to reconnect with family for a time.She has a baby that is taken from her with this young man.Much later in life she leaves the island in search of family and child and takes a job on Oahu,where she is again single out by an ignorant public at her convenience store job.She flies to California to meet her grown daughter and her grandchildren after having endured a lifetime of losses.Lepers usually have shorter life spans.A life that seemed like it should have been empty was actually quite full with relationships and the lull of surfing.I discovered as well that Hawaii didn't really want to be a part of the U.S.I had visited there in 2003 and felt it had a unique flavor.All island people are welcoming,but the western man comes along and wants to colonize them for military purposes.We foisted our religion on them and destroyed many parts of their unique culture.Furthermore,they weren't as resistant to diseases as we were,so maybe we created this mess with our conquest.
I purchased this book because I love all things Hawaiian and to be honest, did not have any real expectations except for a history lesson. Once I started listening, I couldn't put it down. While clearly written as fictional, there was a considerable amount of research into the leper colony of Moloka'i. The story wonderfully weaves the story of fictional characters into what it must have been like for the lepers in reality. The story is heartbreaking yet uplifting.To hear of the trauma the residents endured and in turn how they over came the hardship and made a life for themselves. This book is definitely worth the credit.
The history of Hawaii is interesting and I enjoyed the reader's pronunciation of Hawaiian words, but the author makes anything bad that could happen to this girl happen. The unabridged version (17 hours!!) just drags out the depressing story even longer. I listened to it through the end, but my fellow Metro riders probably wondered why I had tears in my eyes most mornings.
I thought she did a good job and I enjoyed her Hawaiian accent.
I have always wanted to go to Moloka'i because it is still relatively untouched (primarily because it was a leper colony) and that's still a goal.
I don't see what all the fuss is about....neither did the members of my book club. While the story was interesting, I thought the writing was terrible. As the only person in book club listening to the book I was able to share that the narrator of this book made the male characters, especially the father, sound just like Yogi Bear. Everytime he said "Hello baby girl" I had to giggle.
I would not recommend this book. I know it shows up on many lists as a suggestion for book clubs but the prevailing opinion in my group was negative.
Love the book and story. The listener gets a great education on the historical leper colony and the treatment and condidions of its residents. However, the narrator reads the book too slowly, which makes the book seem more appropriate for children and leaves me often focusing on the speed of narration.
I loved the characters in this book, they were well written. The descriptions of the Hawaiian Islands made it very easy to imagine I was there.
The story was beautifully read.
Tragedy in Paradise
I learned about a place and time I previously had very little awareness of. It was the easiest kind of learning because of the beautiful story.
A surprise to me. Not sure what I was expecting but author grabbed my attention immediately and I was sad to come to the end. A plausible fictional account of a very young girl sent off to the leper colony on Molokai. We've all heard about it but Alan Brennert brings this to life, elicits emotions of the listener through the reader herself here - well paced and read with local flavor and dialect, but easy to understand. Story follows a little girl into womanhood and beyond, and offering historical insight into the disease process and medical treatments from decade to decade. Best listen in a long time for me, since The Cruelest Miles.
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