Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert ~ 309 pages ~ published 2/19/19 by St. Martin’s Press
DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA′I is the highly anticipated sequel to Alan Brennert’s acclaimed book club favorite, and national bestseller, MOLOKA′I. It’s a companion tale that 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 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. In 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.
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Daughter of Moloka’i is a beautiful testament to the power of love and family in overcoming the trials of life. I had never heard of the first book in this series, Moloka’i, which follows Rachel, the mother of the main character in Daughter of Moloka’i, Ruth. I am a huge historical fiction fan, so the idea of covering so much time in this book was incredibly appealing to me. It stretches from the 1910’s in Hawaii, all the way to 1970’s California. The prospect of learning about both Hawaiian and Japanese cultures was also very interesting to me. I ended up learning so much from this book.
Ruth was a fascinating character to follow on her journey. From her beginnings in an orphanage where she was different than the other children around her (because she was half Hawaiian, half Japanese), she was always a little spitfire, and I absolutely loved her spirit. Once she was adopted by a Japanese family, I really loved seeing her embrace that side of her culture. Towards the end of the book, she begins to explore her Hawaiian roots, which I loved because it showed that your past is always a part of you.
As someone who is going through the adoption process myself, seeing Ruth’s relationship with her adoptive family was incredibly special. I loved how her family always made sure to make her feel like she belonged, like she was no different than her brothers. And, later in the book when she meets her biological mother, I loved how supportive her family was of Ruth exploring this part of herself. It was a beautiful portrait of family and how love can overcome so much.
As for the section of the book about the war, I really knew basically nothing about the Japanese internment camps in the United States during WWII. This book was a fascinating and heartbreaking look into this part of my country’s history. I can see why our history books would have tried to push this under the rug, so to speak, and I’m glad that I am now a little bit more informed about this terrible injustice.
Brennert’s writing is poignant and beautiful. I was brought to tears more than once, and I am now exceedingly excited to go back and pick up the first book in this series. That, to me, is the mark of a fantastic book and a great writer.
⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I gave Daughter of Moloka’i 5 STARS! This is a great read if you are into historical fiction, books about families, and learning more about other cultures.
Are you interested in learning more about this book/series? Check out the links below!
Have you read Daughter of Moloka’i? How about the first book in the series, Moloka’i? Are you a fan of historical fiction? What is your favorite time period to read about? Let’s talk down in the comments!
Love and happy reading,