Title/Author: Daughter of Molokai
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
In a nutshell (Publisher):
Alan Brennert’s beloved novel Moloka’i, currently has over 600,000 copies in print. This companion tale 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 strawberry and grape 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. Told in vivid, evocative 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.
This is a story of Ruth, daughter of leprosy parents who gave her away and later adopted by a Japanese couple, Taizo and Etsuko.
We watch Ruth as she grows from a child to an adult surrounded by people who love her and those who shun her for who she is – a hapa (a person of mixed heritage; half Japanese, half Hawaiian).
We’ll also witness how Ruth and her family survived a tragic time in history, when the Japanese were not welcomed in the US. At war, whom do they serve? It was a test of loyalty and honor for honorable men like Taizo and Jiro (Ruth’s uncle). It was also a test of strength and endurance. What would one do to survive? What would one do for their country? In this case, where does their loyalty lie?
Life improved when they were finally released from the camp. Despite the loss and tragedy that befell them, they found ways to cope and survive. Bad memories were never far behind but life outside the camp gave them hope.
Life moved on for Ruth and her own family, living their everyday life the Japanese way, until one day, when Ruth’s birth mother, Rachel, reached out to her. When they finally met, Ruth was given the chance to learn more about Rachel and her Hawaiian heritage. It was then, that Ruth found herself feeling more complete and the emptiness she felt all these years, filled. She finally felt whole.
This is a story of family, love, loss, tragedy, and survival.
I loved how well-researched this story was, and that it was rich in history! But as much as I enjoyed this, I definitely prefer Moloka’i. It felt more well-paced. A great sequel nevertheless, which I think can also be read as a stand-alone.
Thank you Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
*Quotes included here are from an advanced readers copy and are subject to change upon final publication.
Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? If not, do you intend to read it? Please let me know your thoughts!