This novel spans the 80-year life of Rachel Kalama, who was born in Honolulu where when she was seven, she was taken away from her family and lived most of her life in involuntary exile on Moloka’i as a leper. In this island where lives are supposed to end, Rachel’s life begins.
I enjoyed Rachel’s character and everyone else’s in this book. Rachel refuses to let her condition get in the way of a life well-lived. Seeing her grow up with leprosy along with her new-found family and friends made it an interesting read though I teared up here and there.
Alan Brennert evidently researched quite well since a lot of historical facts intertwines with the story which gave me a snapshot of Hawaii in the past.
Given its rich history and well-developed characters, this story will stay with me for a long time.
Favorite quotes: “There’s only one disadvantage, really, to having two mothers… You know twice the love… but you grieve twice as much.”
“With wonder and a growing absence of fear she realized, I am more than I was an hour ago.”
“But there was still a bottomless hole inside her, and she began to think that there always would be.”
“I’ve come to believe that how we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or death….is the true measure of the Divine within us.”
“Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master.”
Rating : 5/5 stars