For this week's Friday Feature I thought I would share a book I was introduced to In 2011, Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I can't remember how I first learned of it, but I quickly fell in love with the characters, the writing, and the story. This book begins in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1890's. When I imagine Hawaii, which is still a place I haven't had the opportunity to visit, I imagine it to be an earthly paradise. We meet Rachel and her family and at first, we experience this paradise and what it would feel like to grow up there as Rachel did.
But, paradise won't last long. Rachel is forcibly removed from her family at the age of seven and she is taken to Kalaupapa. Kalaupapa is on the island of Moloka'i and it is where a leprosy settlement has been established.
This book was a beautiful, emotional, heart breaking roller coaster ride. Rachel finds new friends, a new family, love, and purpose. She also experiences great suffering, losses and hopes for a miracle.
This book still lives inside me so much, that when I found out last year that the sequel was being published, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I didn't love Daughter of Moloka'i as much, but it also tugged at the heart strings and continued the beautiful story that had lived in me for so long.
This is one of my favourite historical fiction books of all time because it brings to life a time and place, I knew very little about. I learned about leprosy and the community that existed on the island of Moloka'i where Fr. Damien (or St. Damien of Moloka'i), devoted his life during the time this book takes place.
Have the tissues handy!
"I’ve come to believe that how we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or death . . . is the true measure of the Divine within us". - Moloka'i by Alan Brennert