Rachel Kalama is just a little girl when she develops a sore that won’t heal. Soon she is shipped off to Kalaupapa, the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. There she makes her home and lives a unique life without any real freedom.
Moloka’i is historical fiction. Some characters are real and others, including Rachel, are composites of people who lived on Moloka’i. The story covers several decades, hitting the highlights of Rachel’s long life, often skipping long periods of time. Prior to reading the book, the only thing I really knew about the leper colony is my uncle visited once, probably in the 1950s. He mixed among the residents blessing and serving them. Even though it was not allowed to go near the residents, he was able to get away with it since he was a priest. As I read, I became curious and googled leprosy, Moloka’i, Father Damien, and Kalaupapa to learn more. It’s always extra fulfilling when a book is educational as well as entertaining. It’s not a quick read and the story unfolds slowly and is often quite emotional. I recommend it to all adults who enjoy historical fiction.
5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2015: 102
Pages Read in 2015: 29,352
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