Paperback - 2004
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This richly imagined novel, set in Hawaii 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-coloured 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 realised characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humour, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story" (
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2004, c2003.
Edition: 1st St. Martin's Griffin ed. --
ISBN: 9780312304355
Branch Call Number: FIC Brenn
Characteristics: 389 p. : map.


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Sep 17, 2018

This book is now one of my favorites of all time. Being Hawaiian, I've always been interested in Moloka'i and Father Damien. This story was told from the viewpoint of a little girl who was taken from her family and sent to Moloka'i. The author enables the reader to experience the emotions of the little girl, as well as her family. It was upsetting and heartwrenching, but that's partly what made it such a good read. Rather than being inundated with dry facts, the reader is take on an emotional roller ride. I highly recommend this book.

May 16, 2016

This book reminds me a little of Michener's Hawaii. While it doesn't,t have the breadth of Michener's work, the depth it provides about the leper colony is astonishing. I wish I had read this book before I had visited Moloka'i. Brennert has done in-depth research in the story about Rachel Kalama who was sent to the leper colony as a child. By focusing on her and creating a character that encompasses the experiences of many, he's created a very readable book. If nothing else the reader comes away with a sense of the continuing miracle of medicine and how antibiotics were the miracle that has cured leprosy.

Nov 13, 2015

This is an incredibly moving story of a young Hawaiian girl's life after contracting leprosy at the age of seven. Taken from her close-knit family and sent to Molokai with other leprosy victims, Rachel Kalama faced a prison of a different sort. Here she meets some unforgettable characters among the nuns and the dying children and adults.

This novel is fiction but the experiences of these Hansen's (leprosy) patients is real - as are the historical events that are built into the novel. Rachel's life is briefly touched by tsunamis, wars, and Japanese internment camps. We are also introduced to real people who lived at Kalaupapa in Molokai.

Rachel learnt to find beauty in suffering and love in death. Young girls that she feared to even look at when she first arrived, became her dear friends. This is her first encounter with Violet (a girl she had been studiously avoiding): Rachel went to the girl, saw her face close up for the first time: nose and lips swollen to twice their normal size, skin pocked with raw red sores. She thought of the girl she had seen her first day at Kalihi, the one who made her scream and run; but this one filled her with no fear, only sadness. "Hi. I'm Rachel."

This book will cause some tears, but may also help you become a better person - seeing the soul inside the victim. It also is a testament to the importance of scientific research to discover cures for the diseases that cause pain, suffering, and death.

Aug 11, 2015

Heartbreaking yet uplifting story of an Hawaiian girl diagnosed with Hansen's disease in the age when "lepers" were segregated and sent to an inaccessible area on the island of Moloka'i.

Jun 20, 2015

I loved his other book Honolulu, so got this one hoping it would be as good or even better. The writing is just as good, but the story is really depressing and sad. I didn't finish the book.

Oct 01, 2014

poorly written yawn

Mar 27, 2013

wonderful story - would be great a great epic movie.
characters are so believable and their story lures you along.
an extremely interesting read.

Feb 11, 2013

Fascinating story about an island off Hawaii that functions as a leper colony. The story was amazing, original and real. I appreciated how it shared the history of Hawaii, as well as the colony. If you liked this, check out 'The Island', also about a leper colony in Greece.

Aug 19, 2012

This book was such a captivating story that I just couldn't put it down. Everything was so wonderfully described and the story represented a young girl who learned to accept her difficult situation with a lot of grace and a beautiful attitude. I spoke to the author personally and he said the story just wrote itself, unlike other books he'd published. I believe that to be true as it was such an easy just flowed. I'd highly recommend it.

Aug 08, 2012

Brenner did a wonderful job with this book. The scenery and story are very well developed, and the history folded into the story was a nice touch too. This was an eye-opening read because I didn't realize that Moloka'i had such a rich background story.

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Apr 02, 2013

Moloka'i is a period book in Hawaii set from the 1890s to 1970. The book is about Rachel, who contracts leprosy in the 1890s, and is exiled to the island of Moloka'i. She is only 5 years old when she is diagnosed and her family is devastated. However, she does find joy in meeting up with her Uncle Pono at the island and makes new friends. The novel details the passing of the decades where Rachel meets new friends, loves and adventures. It also details the tragic moments of her life. Her best friend is Sister Catherine who helps her through the rough patches. The book wasn't much to my taste but I do trend toward books with lots of tragedy and drama and little happiness. However, the real annoyance of the novel was the constant description of the landscape. I understand the author was attempting to give the readers a flavor of the exoticness of the islands of Hawaii but pages of this lyrical description became boring. This is the reason why the book merits a low 3 stars. However, for those readers who don't mind a whole lot of description, I do recommend this book as a good accounting of the stigma of leprosy at the time and how one wonderful woman overcame this stigma with a great attitude and how she was able to shape a good life despite this tragic diagnosis.

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