Wow. What a stellar book. The characters are still fresh in my mind, even now, almost 2 months after I read it! This is a very well-researched historical fiction, and it gave me new insight into the Hawaiian leprosy epidemic, as well as the annexation of Hawaii by the U.S. It is extremely well-written, engaging, interesting, and insightful. I even cried at the end, and I never cry at books! Definitely pick this book up. You'll never think of Moloka'i the same way again.
This is a really good read. However, I found it to be very depressing throughout the entire book. I set it down about halfway through and took a break from reading it for about two weeks--just to take a breather from the overwhelming heartbreak I felt for Rachel. I would recommend this but be prepared for a heartwrenching story.
This is an excellent book! I can't believe it was written by a man...he gave the main character, Rachel, an amazing voice. A wonderful novel about love, compassion, friendship, life/death, grief...it's a coming-of-age story set against incredible obstacles in Hawaii at the end of the 1800s. My book club read this one month and everyone really enjoyed the story. 5 stars!
When I think historical novel, I think yawn...usually. This book was utterly charming. It begins with a 7 year old girl that has leprosy and the turn of events that ends with her heading to the Leprosy Settlement on Moloka'i. What at first seems to be a death sentence then turns into a beautiful story of family, community, and hope. The characters in this book were truly original and likable. I loved it!
My first 5-star book of the year! In 1890s Hawai'i, young Rachel Kalama is 8 years old when she contracts leprosy and is separated from her family to live in the leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. What might have been a death sentence becomes a triumph of a strong spirit as Rachel determinedly lives her life to the full amidst horror and despair. This novel puts a face and a human voice to the countless affected souls discarded by society in fear of this dreadful disease, and chronicles their battle over the years to not only find a cure but reclaim their dignity from the world that rejected them. While Rachel is fictional, she is set amongst several historical characters and Stein weaves a rich tapestry imbued with deep-seated emotion. Yet despite its moments of harshness and pain it's an easy read, flowing surprisingly fast as it draws in and completely absorbs the reader. Highly recommended.