Rachel is a happy seven year old living in Honolulu when she is diagnosed with leprosy (now known as Hansen's Disease) and sentenced to live the rest of her life in Kalaupapa, the leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. The historical novel Moloka'i, while spanning the years from the 1890's to 1970's, brings dignity and compassion to those who were quarantined to the island and separated from their families.
Moloka'i is an enchanting novel by Alan Brennert. It is the story of Rachel and her life on Moloka'i but ultimately it is a story of hope and faith. It is a heart wrenching story but the people on the island also experience laughter, love and joy.
The character development is well done. I especially appreciated the attention paid to Sister Catherine, a nun serving the people of Kalaupapa. The nuns are not the stock characters that inhabit most media, but thoughtful, tormented and realistic people with desires and dreams. The setting of the beautiful islands of Hawaii is described by one who loves it. Hawaii and its people are alive in this beautiful, stunning novel.
Because I became completely absorbed with the novel I was talking about it all the time with Utah Dad. He was reminded of a video clip that he had seen recently about a woman searching for information about her grandmother who had lived in Kalaupapa. He found it for me and I was touched by the tender and heart breaking emotions in the segment.
There is a longer, more in depth video about the Kalaupapa, Moloka'i that recently aired on BYUTV.