Before the Blog is a new meme hosted by YA Litwit. The idea here is that we have all been reading much longer than we have been blogging and have many books in our reading past that are worthy of blogging about. This is a way to 'rediscover' these gems by answering a few basic questions. For details check out the YA Litwit blog.
And now, my first 'Before the Blog' book, 'Moloka'i' by Alan Brennert...
Why did you choose this book? I chose this book because it was a very memorable book to me. I'd been thinking about the book this week, so it seemed a perfect time to blog about it.
When did you read this book? January 2007 for a book club at church
Who would you recommend this book to? I would recommend this book for anyone interested in historical fiction; particularly those interested in early-20th century history or in medical history. I am also recommending this to my Bookworm friends, who are always open to a good read.
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads. You can read member comments here.
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.
My memory is that I originally chose to read this book because of the beautiful cover. It IS beautiful, but my notes tell me I read the book for a book club at church that I attended a handful of times. I truly enjoyed this book that is set in Hawaii around the turn of the last century. Though I'd heard of leprosy colonies, I always thought it was ancient, uncivlized history. It was a shock to me to learn how the victims were ostracized. And yet, I saw parallels to our world today, and particularly to the way AIDS victims were treated in the early years of the disease. This book tells of human resilience and human relationships, and our ability to form 'community' in even the most terrible circumstances. I bonded to the characters and this was an unforgettable story. Definitely worth a second read!
I rated this book 5 Stars. Other Goodreads members have combined to give it a 4.10 star-rating.