By Alan Brennert
(St. Martin's Griffin, Paperback, 9780312304355, 416pp.)
Publication Date: October 2004
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This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai'i 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-colored 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 realized characters, "Moloka'i" is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story" (mostlyfiction.com).
- The book's opening paragraph likens Hawai'i in the 19th century to a garden. In what ways is Hawai'i comparable to another, Biblical, garden?
"A dazzling historical novel."--The Washington Post
"Moloka'i is a haunting story of tragedy in a Pacific paradise."--Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek "Alan Brennert draws on historical accounts of Kalaupapa and weaves in traditional Hawaiian stories and customs.... Moloka'i is the story of people who had much taken from them but also gained an unexpected new family and community in the process."--Chicago Tribune
"[An] absorbing novel...Brennert evokes the evolution of--and hardships on--Moloka'i in engaging prose that conveys a strong sense of place."--National Geographic Traveler
"Moving and elegiac." --Honolulu Star-Bulletin
"Compellingly original...Brennert's compassion makes Rachel a memorable character, and his smooth storytelling vividly brings early twentieth-century Hawai'i to life." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)