Moloka'i

Moloka'i - Alan Brennert NO SPOILERS!!!

I want to make it very clear; those of you who are looking for a book of historical fiction on life in Hawaii, look no further - this is your book. Do not make the mistake I made by first trying Shark Dialogues. I could not complete Shark Dialogues. Moloka'i will teach you about life in Hawai through the 1900s. It will teach you about leprosy, today called Hansen's Disease. I thought I knew quite a bit about this disease. This book proved me wrong. I learned so much. This book brings the horrors of this disease to you, the reader, as a mighty punch in the stomach. I learned so much. Besides learning about the disease, I learned about Hawaii. I feel I can now smell it and see it and feel it. The mositure, the pounding surf, the majestic mountains, cliffs and crumbling paths mounting the peaks. You learn not only about the physical landscape but also native Hawaiian customs and belifs.The reason why I give this book four stars is that I learned so much. The historical and medical facts are presented in the framework of an engaging tale.

There is an excellent author's note at the end. It explains what is fact and what is fiction. Several of the characters are based on true experiences and real people. So much history is reflected in this book. Not merely the treatment of leprosy, but also the death of King Kaläkua, the reign of Queen Lili'uokalani, the American take-over, WW2 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, fires, the tsunami, the marvels of invention that characterize the early 1900s, the Depression, all of this is covered from the Hawaiian perspective. It is fascinating to read this book.

Rachel is the main protagonist of the book. Her life is very difficult and heart-wrenching, but there is humor. That which happens in her life makes the reader understand how it might feel to be a leper then, there, in Hawaii, in the 1900s. The style of writing is straight-forward. The circumstances and facts are presented so you come to understand the people who suffered the stigma of leprosy and the events of the times.