After days ( months really) of gorging ya novels, i finally sought to give the genre a break and switch to reading something more serious. It’s hard, you know. YA is addictive atuff. It’s quick to read, easy to relate to and works wonders for depression (well there you go! my secret antidote for depression). After laboriously going through my to-read list, i finally got my hands on Moloka’i. It’s running theme, about the plight of leprosy patients in the late nineteenth century, promised to enrich with knowledge of the events which i was sadly unaware of. Yes, i am quite ashamed to admit that i knew nothing about leprosy camps or about the history of the disease. And thus enlightenment came in the form of this novel by Alan Brennert. It was informative, very much so, and very well researched.
The story is about a young girl, Rachael, who is taken from her family and sent to the Molokai leper colony in the 1890’s. She’s one of the youngest inhabitants of the colony. She spends most of her life there until a cure for leprosy is discovered. The novel takes us through her life and how she experiences loneliness, seperation and desperation on having been taken away from her family, finding friendship and solace in fellow and growing up to become a woman of extreme tolerance.
The novel as i mentioned previously is abundant on knowledge and takes us through an era when scientific discoveries were abundant and orthodoxy was at its peak. It gives a very detailed and sometimes exhausting description of the islands which sometimes breaks the pace of narration. The story in itself is quite interesting and there are parts where your heart goes out to the characters and their predicament. It’s heart wrenching at places. The residents share close friendship with each other and you can’t help but sigh in delight at their camaraderie.
It’s a sentimental novel full of heart wrenching moments but it’s not perfect. Some of the tragedies seem forced and work as mere incidents to pile on to the sentimentality. Read to know more about historical events that many of us don’t pay attention to. But nothing spectacular here.