by Alan Brennert (Goodreads Author)
Jan 26, 20 14
Read from January 20 to 26, 2014
This richly imagined novel, set in Hawaii more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place---and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. It covers an 80 year span from 1891-1970.
Rachel Kalama, a seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. Here her life is supposed to end---but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.
I found the book to be heartbreaking and uplifting, following the story of Rachel Kalama. With death all around her she still showed incredible strength and courage for herself and others. She dealt with each challenge and was a positive influence to all those around her. I admired her bravery in dealing with her illness and not letting it take over her life.
I also enjoyed this book because it opened my eyes to a problem, to which I had never given much thought to, even though it was unpleasant. I learned much about the leper colony on this small island of Hawaii. It was also very detailed and many of the political figures and certainly the locations were factual. I learned about Hawaii's history over the 80 year span.
There were themes of religion, culture, family life and politics within the book. I also like how the book ended even though the last 20 years were rushed through.
Since there were so many Hawaiian words throughout the book, I would have liked if the author included a glossary of the terms in the back of the book. It would have definitely helped me!