Touching story of a teen Pearl Diver who contracts leprosy in 1940's Japan and her life through the years living in a leprosarium. Told through a series of mementos and memoirs, this is different from any other story about leprosy I've read. If you like this book, also try Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
This was a haunting and well research book.
A young teen is a pearl diver, a tom boy of a family that is hard working. She goes out each day with the divers, older than she.
One day she notices a spot on her arm that is numb. Later she has one on her back.
The spot on her arm gets cut during a dive and she never notices until she sees the blood.
She goes to the doctor eventually, and finds out she has leprosy. This is a dreaded disease and the ones who have it are condemned to a horrid life, they are disowned by family and friends.
She runs away but it found in a abandoned shed. She is forced to go to a leprosarium, and the indignatiies gave out there is worse than the disease.
She eventually find friends among the lepers, some in horrible shape, and nurses the sick ones.
She takes turns at night watching for rats to come and eat off fingers and toes, and sometimes the late night love fest of others that have married on the island.
She is force to work in the abortion area, where babies are aborted late term.
They give a trial drug to those qalifiying and it halts the progress of the disease but infections from needles become a problem.
She can leave, only if she already has a job on the outside.
But the stigma of the leper is such it will shut down businesses frequented by them, even if not marred.
She eventually dies on the island but make a impact on others and does have a full life.
Very sad and well researched, i recommend this book.
Excellent--explores the question of what a person becomes after having been stripped of everything
I liked this book-it was a good insight to how people with leprosy were treated before the world became more advanced and tolerant