Oddly enough, the day my dad departed for a a vacay in Hawaii, the library informed me that my ordered copy of Moloka'y by Alen Brennert was ready to be picked up. It's weird/amazing when things like that happen, like it was meant to be!
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 4th 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2003)

Goodreads Summary:
This richly imagined novel, set in
Hawai'i 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.Rachel Kalama, a spirited 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. With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka'i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that "few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story.

This book ended up meaning A LOT more to me than I thought it would. Firstly it goes through Hawaii's ( particularly Moloka'i's) history from 1891-1970 covering the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii to Pearl Harbour, to the end of the Hansen's Disease segregation. And best of all, it's told through the life of a single person, Rachel Kalama, and those who loved her.

Rachel's story is completely devistating. This story isn't a happy one, in fact, i'll warn you, this book is extremely sad. She is one of the many Hansen's Disease sufferes who was taken from her family and left to live out her days in the 'leper' colony on Moloka'i. Yep, this vook was heeeavy. Before reading this book I had no idea about these colonies or how they operated. I was shocked by the details of this story, and even more shocked that this went on until 1969. I fell in love with all of the characters of this book, and hearing their stories. I felt excited when the residents of Kalaupapa triumphed and made progress, and felt like crying when things went the other direction. Rarely does one get to read a book that makes you feel like you are part of a person's family, and Brennert's historical fiction did just that.

The story to me was all about Ohana-family. I was truly touched by Rachel's story and will never forget it. I was very impressed that Brennert could tell me someone's entire life story in 384 pages and never bore me once. I can't believe I never knew about this subject until this novel. I'm just left gob-smacked really. 5/5 stars, without a doubt.