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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“Compellingly original … Brennert’s compassion makes Rachel a memorable character, and his smooth storytelling vividly brings early twentieth-century Hawaii to life.” ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    810
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    31

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    121
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    25
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    24

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Cynthia
  • Green Valley, AZ, United States
  • 12-09-13

A book of hope and strength.

Would you listen to Moloka’i again? Why?

Yes. I loved Rachel and her strength of character. Excellently narrated. I didn't want this book to end, I enjoyed it so much.

What other book might you compare Moloka’i to and why?

The Diary of Anne Frank. Even though they have completely different stories, their abilities to have hope when most of us would feel despair is inspiring. They are both historically accurate accounts of two very different events in history from a human perspective.

Which scene was your favorite?

I think at the end when Rachel reunites with her sister and understands why her mother disappeared from her life. She had to make a similar sacrifice.

If you could take any character from Moloka’i out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Rachel, for sure. She is inspiring.

Any additional comments?

I always wanted to know more about Moloka"i and leprosy. Reading about this subject in a fictional novel that was historically accurate gave it a human face. I highly recommend this audiobook. The story was truly brought to life with the excellent narration.

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Compelling story

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

It's a very compelling story but the narration is terrible - halting and oddly emphasized

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  • ERT
  • Athens GA
  • 07-25-13

Amazing

Have you listened to any of Anne Noelani Miyamoto’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I haven't but her accent certainly helped make this an outstanding performance.

If you could take any character from Moloka’i out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Without a doubt, it would be Rachel.

Any additional comments?

Alan Brennert crafted a beautiful story and an unforgettable protagonist! My love of Hawaiian history drew me to this book, and I'm so thankful.

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  • Story

Beautiful tragic tale of 1860-1960 Hawaii!

Where does Moloka’i rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

High, this is well written, historically correct, and characters are well developed.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are so many, Rachel, Henry, Kenji, Katherine

Have you listened to any of Anne Noelani Miyamoto’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I love her voice and the natural cadence of her voice, just beautiful to listento.

If you could take any character from Moloka’i out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Uncle Pono, he was so funny and so loving...if I could include Henry we'd have a party!

Any additional comments?

This book will engage you, educate you, introduce you to Hawaiian Culture, make you laugh out loud, cry through a box of tissues and leave you wrung out. I loved every word.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Lepers in Paradise

Loving everything Hawaiian as I do, this novel is a realistic ice wash for the romance associated with the islands. Following the experience of a Hawaiian girl who contracts leprosy in the late 19th century leading to her deportation to the isolated colony on Molokai, the author describes all things Hawaiian during the period from colonization to independence, then a territory and finally a state. The racial and religious tensions, prejudices, and acceptance are part of this engaging story. Written for a female audience interested in the emotional context of the personal and social tragedies associated with the disease, set in an exotic location during an amazing century, "Molokai" entertains, educates and enlightens the listener about many unfamiliar things. Now I'm going to do some research on leprosy...

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  • Sharon
  • West Monroe, LA, United States
  • 05-23-13

Great Book about an often feared disease

I visit a leper colony in Central Asia every week and have made many friends there. It is sad to see that even today that Hansen's disease is so misunderstood. I thought this book was well written and captured a lot of the emotional, mental and physical suffering that people affected by Hansen's Disease suffer. I hope this book will help the public understand the disease more. I enjoyed learning about Hawaiian culture too and I thought the narrator did an excellent job with the different voices.

My next few sentences include a SPOILER so please don't read further if you have yet to listen to the audiobook! SPOILER: I was happy that in the end of the book that Rachel was able to meet her daughter and develop a relationship with her as well as with her siblings that were still alive. I only wish more of my friends with Hansen's Disease had such happy endings! I did think it odd that Sister Katherine just disappears at the end of the book and we don't know what happened to her.

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Amazing, heartbreaking and wistful story!

Mr. Brennert did not disappoint with this book. After reading his book, Honolulu and falling in love with his story telling, I had to read this book. I must say that it is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. BUT it was also one of the most captivating and I did find myself laughing often as well.

The book set in the time of the late 19th century and 20th century is about leprosy. His fictional character, Rachel just captured me from word one and we get to see her all through her life as a leper. She was taken away from her family and sent to Moloka'i with so many struggles and losses that it's amazing she even survived. Mr. Brennert created such a strong woman and with so many opportunities and reasons to give up, she never did. She appreciated the good in her life and used that to go on. There were also so many other incredible characters that became such a wonderful part of Rachel's life and I loved them all.

I have to tell you that I cried, I mean literally bawled my eyes out during 99% of the book. Some were happy tears, but I have to say that most were sad tears. So, if you need a good cry, read this book. Even if you don't and you are brave enough to endure the pain of Rachel, I insist you read this story. My love of historical novels and Hawaii in general truly made this book an enjoyable and interesting history lesson.

Mr. Brennert truly has a way with story telling and the way he weaves his words. He deserves everyone of those 5 stars. This was an amazing read and I recommend it highly!

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Interesting Story

I liked Molokai`i mostly because I was interested in the story and curious about what life in Hawaii's leper colony would have been like. The author does a wonderful job making the characters come alive and I found myself almost forgetting that it was fiction. Ms Miyamoto does a wonderful job narrating the story in many true Hawaiian voices. This might get annoying to some listeners but I found it helpful and realistic.

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  • Gail
  • jackson, NJ, United States
  • 03-18-13

So-So

I didn't find anything riveting or captivating here. A third of the story could have been clipped. This was way too long.. The whole thing just "missed the mark." Based on the tragedies that befell Rachel, I should have cared a lot more than I did. Overall, the author failed to bond me with her central character. Narration was excellent.

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Read this!

Would you listen to Moloka’i again? Why?

I never plan on listening to any of my books again and then, as I am scrolling through my library, I see a title that I listened to a few years back and once again I am drawn to it. I am sure this will be one such book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Moloka’i?

When she heard her daughters voice on the phone, very emotional.

What about Anne Noelani Miyamoto’s performance did you like?

The gentleness of her voice, very easy to listen to. It was listening to the sample she read that convinced me to purchase this book.

If you could rename Moloka’i, what would you call it?

I love this title so I can't think of one that would be better.

Any additional comments?

YES, purchase this book! I almost didn't. I put in on my wish list and thought several times about whether to purchase it or not. I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear about the pain and suffering I knew in this book but I was drawn in by the cover as well as the title, then I listened to the sample and that convinced me. I am so glad I did! This story took me so many places in my head and my heart.