Daughter of Moloka'i is the follow-up to Brennert's 2003 novel Moloka'i, which tells the story of Rachel, a young girl diagnosed with leprosy and forced to live in quarantine in the colony for leprosy patients on the island of Moloka'i. I read Moloka'i a number of years ago and loved it, but I didn't remember a lot about the story. I thought I'd give this a try anyway, and it stands alone well.
Daughter of Moloka'i follows Ruth, the daughter who Rachel was forced to give up--as all leprosy patients were at the time. As a young girl, Ruth is adopted by a Japanese family in Hawai'i. They family makes its way to California, where they build their lives and businesses--until they are ripped from those lives and sent to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
While not as riveting as I remember Moloka'i to be, this was an excellent read that covers a lot of ground. Following Ruth's life takes the reader through the racism against Japanese in the '30s and 40s, to life in the internment camps, to the lives of remote Hawaii'ans, and finally closes the circle on Rachel and Moloka'i. I highly recommend these two books for anyone looking for historical fiction about a little-covered but fascinating topic.
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DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA′I is the highly anticipated sequel to Alan Brennert’s acclaimed book club favorite, and national bestseller, MOLOKA′I. It’s a companion tale that tells the story of Ruth, the daughter that Rachel Kalama—quarantined for most of her life at the isolated leprosy settlement of Kalaupapa—was forced to give up at birth.
The book follows young Ruth from her arrival at the Kapi’olani Home for Girls in Honolulu, to her adoption by a Japanese couple who raise her on a farm in California, her marriage and unjust internment at Manzanar Relocation Camp during World War II—and then, after the war, to the life-altering day when she receives a letter from a woman who says she is Ruth’s birth mother, Rachel.
DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA′I expands upon Ruth and Rachel’s 22-year relationship, only hinted at in MOLOKA′I. It’s a richly emotional tale of two women—different in some ways, similar in others—who never expected to meet, much less come to love, one another. And for Ruth it is a story of discovery, the unfolding of a past she knew nothing about. In prose that conjures up the beauty and history of both Hawaiian and Japanese cultures, it’s the powerful and poignant tale that readers of MOLOKA′I have been awaiting for fifteen years.