Molokai is a wonderful example of how to write a great historical fiction novel. The author has taken a very difficult subject matter, leprosy, and given the reader a wonderful insight into the human aspects of being a leper.
The story takes place in a leper colony founded by Father Damien. Kalaupapa, a town on Molokai, is a sterile and inhospitable place when Father Damien started the colony so that he could minister to the lepers. This story does not occur during that difficult time. Instead, we see the life of a leper through the eyes of a Hawaiian girl as she grows from a seven year old into a 50 something adult. We see the lows, highs, and in-between times.
I found this novel to be a sad story but very enlightening and positive. The writing almost makes you feel like you are in Kalaupapa. The story really shines when Rachel finally gets paroled and is free to leave the colony. What she does once leaving is truly heartfelt.
I was raised in Hawaii during the 50's and 60's and was well aware of Kalaupapa. This book reminded me of the time I grew up on Oahu. I remember many of the things done by Rachel. I even sailed on the Lurline from Hawaii to California just like Rachel. I loved this book and it is a great book to read. You will learn what it was like for lepers as they were diagnosed, mistreated, and moved to Kalaupapa without their families.