At the age of 7, Rachel was taken from her family and sent to live on Kalaupapa, on the remote Island of Moloka’I, here she was sent to die as she had contracted leprosy, but her life was just beginning.
Rachel Kalama had a happy childhood; her father was away at sea a lot and often brought Rachel and her family gifts. Her mother deeply cared for her and her brothers and sisters.
It was known that Leprosy was doing the rounds, the symptoms were rose coloured patches and if stabbed with a pin, the person would not feel it.
When Rachel first began showing signs, her mother tried her best to conceal it, until of course she was found out. Therefore, at the age of 7, Rachel was packed off to Kalaupapa.
Rachel was devastated, especially as it was expensive for Rachel’s family to visit. She lived in the home, cared for by nurses and developed a strong friendship with them.
As we follow Rachel’s journey we watch her find love, friendship, loss and triumph as she does her best to get off the Island. Rachel vowed that one day she will make it back home to her family.
However not everyone died of leprosy straight away, some people lasted years and Kalaupapa became a community with fighting spirit.
Moloka’I is based on a true story. Yes, people did believe that putting affected people into quarantine was the answer and it seemed to work as the leprosy cases became less and less.
The author, Alan Brennert has done lots of research to ensure the storyline is authentic.
I found this book hard to get into at first, as the first part is setting the scenes, characters and story; I wasn’t sure where the storyline was going but as I continued it just became better.
They say the sign of a good book is one that can make you cry and I certainly did.