My Opinion: This is the second time that I have read this book, and I did it for my book club. The first time that I read this book, I gave it FIVE stars and a heart - and I remember bawling my eyes out in multiple places during the story, especially at the end. During this reading, I recognized a few of the flaws in the book which knocked the rating down to four stars. But the story still gripped me, and while I may have cried less I still had tears flowing down my face at the ending.
My Book Club's Opinion: My book club gave it a pretty good review also. Most of the club liked it. One woman loved it as much as I did the first time I read it. Many cried during the book - including our one male member. Only one member found it a slog. She found the prose to be trite, but I should also tell you that this member is a published poet and therefore judges prose more than most readers. The other complaint that she had is one that many of us - including me - agreed with. And that is that the numerous instances of mentions of and character interactions with prominent historical events and figures broke up the flow of the storyline. While many of these events were important, they weren't integrated well into the storyline (with the exception IMO of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which played a key role in the story). But I don't think we need to hear so much about it every time an important invention finally made its way to Moloka'i (moving pictures, the phonograph, electric lights, etc).
But the above criticism is a small one. There is so much else to love about this book. We learn a lot about the island of Moloka'i, Hawaiian culture and Hanson's Disease (which is what leprosy is now called). One of our members has Hawaiian heritage, and she agreed that the story seemed "authentic" to her. And in the end it is a powerful, emotional story of one woman's life and struggles, and the community that developed on the island of Moloka'i.
Very interesting and impelling story of a young Hawaiian girl sent to a leper colony on Moloka'i and her life growing up there.
A very interesting tragedy. A different read from anything else I have read. Well worth the effort.