By Lynn Willoughby
Daughter of Moloka’i ~ Alan Brennert
This is a sequel to Brennert’s Moloka’i – a novel about life as a leper on the island over-seen by Father Damien. It is the story of Ruth, the daughter of Rachel Kalama and Kenji. Rachel was quarantined as a child on Moloka’i and spent most of her life there. Kenji was also a leper.
In this book, Ruth, is a baby when she is taken to the Kapolani Home for Girls in Honolulu. When she is five she is adopted by a Japanese couple with three sons. They move to California to work on a strawberry and grape farm and life is good – until the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour and the family is relocated to Manzanar Relocation Camp.
A good part of the book deals with the camps and what everyday life was like – lining up for everything – for meals, the latrines, to wash, to do laundry. The harshness of the climate is another shock as is the lack of privacy, the over crowding, the every day injustices.
Once the war has ended and Ruth and her family are back in California, she receives a letter from her birth mother. She has never known that her mother lived at the settlement of Kalaupapa on Moloka’i. Will she respond to the letter?
This novel was not what I expected, but it was an easy read, well written, and with so much information about both the Hawaiian and Japanese cultures.
Leprosy is now known as Hansen’s Disease. It is caused by M.leprare bacteria and so is much more treatable today than in the past where the stigma surrounding it included shunning the victims.