Poonam's Reviews > Moloka'i

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical

4.5 stars

This story was an eye-opener. It deals with the topic of Leprosy also known as Hansen's disease...

Frankly speaking I never thought much about Leprosy and ashamed to say neither did I know much about this disease. The only thing that came to mind when hearing the word Leprosy is distorted features.....

This story is based in the late 19th century when Leprosy was a major disease and there was no known cure for the same.
This is a fictional story of a Leprosy patient based on true historical events. This can be an issue for some of the readers but I was fine with this as the fictional part of the story was blended well with the political and social changes happening during that time. Also as per the Author's note at the end, the story was well researched and few of the supporting characters have reference to real people living at that time period

The story start's with Rachael a 5 year old, her loving but strict mother, her loving elder siblings and her father who is a sailor traveling foreign lands most of the time but adores Rachel a lot. When she is afflicted with Leprosy at the age of 6, we see how she is torn away from her family and how this disease effects her family dynamics. How people with religious belief's at that time believe this is a result of sin in individuals and how the whole family is shunned. It was heart-breaking to see a young child, baffled by everything that is happening to her and the treatment she receives because of something that is no fault of hers. Leprosy is not just a physical disease but it effects the patients and the people close to them mentally as well.

She is torn away from her family and sent to Moloka'i- A Leper Colony. In real, there was an actual leper colony in Mokola'i and the folks affected by Leprosy were transported there and declared dead in the society.
Here slowly and gradually she forms a new life which is not very simple when there is malady and death all around. We are taken on a journey with Rachel and see things through her eyes for her life span. There are unlikely friendships formed, love found, hope & happiness found even in dire conditions.

There were many true historical events such as America taking over Hawaii and downfall of the Hawaiian Royal family, World war, New technological advancements, Natural disasters and finally a Breakthrough in the cure of this dreaded disease.
Each event is very well interwoven with our story and we see how these big events have an impact on the Leper colony.

There is also an aspect of people from different religions such as Christianity, Buddhism and the old Hawaiian ways staying together and respecting each others belief's.
Stories of Hawaiian folklore has been blended in the story, which I found really interesting and it had me googling and reading more about it.

This book was not a simple story for me but much more as it made me aware of a lot of things I had no idea about (I was actually online searching a lot of events and stories described in this book)
Below is an actual live photo I found online of the Leper Colony of Moloka'i. At present there are still a few patients living there.


This story made me feel very emotional and gave me a craving to be with my family. There were parts that made me smile and parts that made me weep. It has effected me on an emotional level.

The book can feel long sometimes but I will still recommend this book to anyone who want's to read a different story which at times distressing can still provide hope.
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Quotes Poonam Liked

Alan Brennert
“Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master.”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i

Alan Brennert
“She already felt dead in everything but name. What remained to be taken from her? She longed to be enfolded, welcomed, into the earth - to breathe no more, love no more, hurt no more”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i

Alan Brennert
“Love, marriage, divorce, infidelity... life was the same here as anywhere else, wasn't? She realized now wrong she'd been; the pali wasn't a headstone and Kalaupapa wasn't a grave. It was a community like any other, bound by ties deeper than most, and people here went to their deaths as people did anywhere: with great reluctance, dragging the messy jumble of their lives behind them.”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i

Alan Brennert
“After a while the fear became a constant, cold companion, a simple fact of existence.”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i

Alan Brennert
“She had never been afraid of the dark, but then she had never known a dark like this before.”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i

Alan Brennert
“...and all they could do was sit, sleep, eat, and be reminded day after day, night after night, of their disease and eventual death.”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i

Alan Brennert
“Isn't it strange, how one so afraid of contracting a fatal malady...should so earnestly wish for death, as well?”
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i


Reading Progress

April 30, 2016 – Shelved
April 30, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
July 7, 2016 – Started Reading
July 8, 2016 –
5.0% "I did not know that Kalaupapa in Moloka'i has an actual leper colony established in 1870"
July 8, 2016 –
9.0% "Not bad hygiene, not leprous touch or breath. Unchastity. Immorality. -Human race when comes across something new and dangerous, something they don't understand\n can be prejudiced, irrational and stupid!!"
July 8, 2016 –
14.0% "He wept inconsolably, mourning a girl still alive, wishing that his skin would erupt in hideous sores so that he might yet accompany her to Moloka'i"
July 10, 2016 –
25.0% "The instance a child understands the meaning of death :("
July 11, 2016 –
31.0% "It's one sad thing after another"
July 12, 2016 –
46.0% "The Hawaiin folklore is really interesting"
July 13, 2016 –
62.0% "This is making me all emotional"
July 13, 2016 –
81.0% "By now the streets of Kalaupapa were filled with people racing for high ground- sick people crying "Tsunami!" as nature played yet another mean trick on them, God's last best joke at their expense. It was, after all, April Fool's Day "
July 13, 2016 –
100.0% "A satisfying ending"
July 13, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 17, 2016 – Shelved as: historical

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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message 1: by Mansuriah (new) - added it

Mansuriah Hassan Happy reading :)


Poonam Mansuriah wrote: "Happy reading :)"

Thank you :)


Poonam ♫♫♫ ♥♥♥ Candy ♪ Loves♪ Music ┼ Books ♫♫♫ ♥♥♥ wrote: "Fantastic review Poonam

Have a great week and happy reading"


Thanks Candy. Happy weekend to you too xx


message 4: by Vaneesha (new)

Vaneesha Great review Poonam! I'm glad you enjoyed this book, I will have to check it out!


Poonam Vaneesha wrote: "Great review Poonam! I'm glad you enjoyed this book, I will have to check it out!"

Thanks Vaneesha:) Do check this out if you get a chance!


message 6: by ♛ Garima ♛ (new)

♛ Garima ♛ Wow amazing review


Poonam ♛ Garima ♛ wrote: "Wow amazing review "

Thanks Garima. It was a pretty Amazing read too!


message 8: by Gokul (new)

Gokul balasubramanian excellent review poonam! enjoyed reading it


Poonam Gokul wrote: "excellent review poonam! enjoyed reading it"

Thanks Gokul :))


message 10: by Mansuriah (new) - added it

Mansuriah Hassan Such a beautiful review, Poonam! It sounds like a must-read book.


Poonam Mansuriah wrote: "Such a beautiful review, Poonam! It sounds like a must-read book."

Thanks Mansuriah, it is a very good read and you should give this one a try!


message 12: by Ritu (new)

Ritu That is a lovely review Poonam!


Poonam Ritu wrote: "That is a lovely review Poonam!"

Thanks Ritu :))


message 14: by Aditi (new)

Aditi Excellent review :-)


Poonam Aditi wrote: "Excellent review :-)"

Thanks Aditi :))


message 16: by Dia (new)

Dia Amazing review,Poonam :)


Poonam Angel wrote: "Amazing review,Poonam :)"

Thanks Angel!


Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky) This has been on my tbr list for months. Better move it up the list.


Poonam Lauren wrote: "This has been on my tbr list for months. Better move it up the list."

Made me emotional though. Keep some tissues handy


Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky) Yes it looks like a heavy read. :(

I have been trying to get someone to buddy read Dangerous Girls with me (one of the books you recommended) but no one has volunteered yet. I'm just going to go ahead and read it without a discussion group thou if I can't find anyone willing in the next few days which is a shame. .


message 21: by Poonam (last edited Jul 18, 2016 07:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Poonam Lauren wrote: "Yes it looks like a heavy read. :(

I have been trying to get someone to buddy read Dangerous Girls with me (one of the books you recommended) but no one has volunteered yet. I'm just going to go ..."


Wait for a few days and if you don't find anyone go ahead. But I agree it's more fun to read mystery's with group discussions :)


message 22: by Mathangi (new) - added it

Mathangi Wow this sounds like a very interesting book! I'll check it out asap :)


Poonam Mathangi wrote: "Wow this sounds like a very interesting book! I'll check it out asap :)"

It is. Hope you can get your hands on it soon :))


Poonam ♫♫♫ ♥♥♥ Candy ♪ Loves♪ Music ┼ Books ♫♫♫ ♥♥♥ wrote: "Beautiful review Poonam xx"

Thanks :)


message 25: by Praveen (new) - added it

Praveen Nice review Poonam! I am adding it to my tbr !


Poonam Praveen wrote: "Nice review Poonam! I am adding it to my tbr !"

Thanks Praveen:)


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