Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Moloka'i" by Alan Brennert

The Hawaiian Islands have long been a place of exotic richness. But, visitors have brought disease to the islands, one disease being leprosy. The appearance of lesions can send you to a special hospital, destroy your family, and eventually send you to Moloka'i, the leper colony.

Rachel Kalama is six years old when she has to say goodbye to her uncle. It seems that leprosy has claimed him and she misses him. But, a year later, Rachel is in the same predicament. As her parents try to hide the two lesions, a hastily said slur from her sister rips Rachel from her family. Thus begins Rachel's journey into something no seven year old should have to face. Moloka'i becomes her home, and while Rachel has many difficult moments, her youthful resiliency wins. Through the horrors, setbacks, and poignant scenes, Rachel shines through as an example of living. If you choose to take this journey to Moloka'i, you may find your life changed. Why not come listen to Rachel tell her story?

This is a wonderfully poignant book full of good and bad times, happy and sad times, and a good deal of history. I came to love the many characters I met and felt sorrow when one died. The descriptions of leprosy can be intense, but add so much to the richness of the story. Living life to the fullest seems to be an overriding theme here. I recommend this book to individual readers as well as groups. There is so much to discuss here!

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