Moloka'i - Alan Brennert


By Alan Brennert

  • Release Date: 2010-04-01
  • Genre: Historical
Score: 4.5
From 637 Ratings


Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, is part of a big, loving Hawaiian family, and dreams of seeing the far-off lands that her father, a merchant seaman, often visits. But at the age of seven, Rachel and her dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from her family, she is sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i.

In her exile she finds a family of friends to replace the family she's lost: a native healer, Haleola, who becomes her adopted "auntie" and makes Rachel aware of the rich culture and mythology of her people; Sister Mary Catherine Voorhies, one of the Franciscan sisters who care for young girls at Kalaupapa; and the beautiful, worldly Leilani, who harbors a surprising secret. At Kalaupapa she also meets the man she will one day marry.

True to historical accounts, Moloka'i is the story of an extraordinary human drama, the full scope and pathos of which has never been told before in fiction. But Rachel's life, though shadowed by disease, isolation, and tragedy, is also one of joy, courage, and dignity. This is a story about life, not death; hope, not despair. It is not about the failings of flesh, but the strength of the human spirit.


  • Historical fiction at its best

    By Kay's favorite books
    Molokai is part love letter to the late 19th century in HI, part coming of age story, a story of the people infected with Hanson’s disease, and the stories of those who cared for them. In simple yet elegant writing, the author conveys an exceptional range of human experiences, religious practices, and ways to be a family during a time when the world is going through immense change This book was highly recommended to me by a dear friend, and I will encourage everyone I know read this novel that brings to live a specific time and place few realize existed. Kay’s favorite books.
  • Eye Opening

    By TaraBaraCO
    Great book. Opened my eyes to what individuals diagnosed with Hansen's were subject to during this era.
  • Love of Molokai'i

    By bampy1
    We have been to Molokai'i and really enjoyed this book, learned so much thru the characters lives very interesting , could not put it down! Mahalo for this book.
  • Molokai

    By Prof Connie
    Really disappointed in the one dimensional characters the author "put together" from the collected stories of Molokai's residents with Hansen's Disease. His depictions of the real residents at the end of his book, read much better. This book drags on and never pulls the reader in to empathize with the patients. A remarkable feat considering Brennert had such compelling material!
  • Molokai is mo bettah

    By Kikicasper87
    I read this book on my way to Molokai for vacation. I finished it a few days ago just in time to take the mule ride down to kalaupapa. To be able to put a place to the names I've read in the book is amazing. It felt amazing to take a peak into the lives of the patients and their caretakers in Kalaupapa and Kalaweo. The pain and suffering people endured here is not lost even many years down the road. If you get a chance read this book! Even better, read it on your way to Molokai!

    By MeTheBatman
    I could not put it down. A truly beautiful story. I am reading it again ( I ever do that) loved it. And the baby!!!! 😮
  • What a beautiful tale

    By MAK49
    What a beautiful journey to Molokai'i! While stationed at Tripler Army Hospital, Honolulu, during the 60's, my army-nurse aunt made weekly trips to the island. She held sacred tales close to her heart and soul. This is a very well done book!,
  • Great read

    By Randy Fox
    When I first heard about this book I thought, a book about a leper colony in Hawaii? I'm not sure, but after walking away from the book in my library I kept thinking about it. What do I know about 1890 Hawaii and what do I really know about the disease? My love for a better understanding of a time in our history drew me in. I am so glad I read this book. The character Rachel is so strong and so giving even in extremely difficult times of her life. To be sent to the island of Molokai to live in exile at age 6 that takes strength. I love how the book focuses on her adaptation to her new life and how society changes with her. The book takes you through wars, a Tsunami and modern inventions (airplanes). The richness of the characters and the daily sagas they faced made me realize how fortunate I am. Can I blame the government for exiling these people? No, but it still wasn't right. As time progresses and medicines improve so do the treatment of the people living on Molokai. I like how the author helped me understand the name leper from biblical times does not equate with a person suffering from Hansen's disease. I think this would be a great read for someone who likes historical content meshed with fictional characters.
  • Tragic

    By Alsmoore
    A very sad story filled with one tragedy after another. Very well written, engrossing stories, excellent characters, just too sad for me
  • Molokai

    By Beachside traveler
    What wonderfully blended fact fictional. Living in Waikiki for now so it was neat to read such social commentary on life here. I did have to fast forward toward middle of story. The multiple descriptions of the physical ailment of Hansen's disease just not seem totally necessary to make the point of detestation. Would recommend.