Official Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1917-1970 Honolulu, Hawaii and California (Florin, Manzanar Relocation Center, and San Jose)
***I received an eARC copy of Daughter of Moloka’i from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, via NetGalley***
*** this post contains affiliate links ***
Review: Compelling and sad historical fiction. Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert is a companion novel to the marvelous Moloka’i which told the story of Rachel, who was stricken with leprosy and lived on the island of Moloka’i. Rachel has a daughter, named Ruth, and Daughter of Moloka’i is Ruth’s story.
Daughter of Moloka’i starts off in Honolulu, and then soon moves to the farmlands of Florin, California, which is near Sacramento. Ruth, who is half Hawaiian and half Japanese, is adopted by a Japanese couple, and flourishes in her new life and family. I loved the characters of Ruth’s adopted parents, Taizo and Etsuko Watanabe, and also Ruth’s brothers. Both Taizo and Etsuko exhibited quiet strength that holds their family together while experiencing racism upon arriving in California and also during the horrific internment camps of WWII. The sections of the book set at the Manzanar Relocation Center were tough to read and intense.
I liked Ruth well enough. I didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Rachel, from Moloka’i, and so couldn’t muster up a whole lot of enthusiasm when reading her story, but I still was interested in what she was doing and what was happening in her life.
While reading Daughter of Moloka’i I couldn’t help comparing it to Moloka’i, and while it was a good historical fiction read, I didn’t love it the way I loved Moloka’i. Daughter of Moloka’i is quite good, but they are very different books. For me, I couldn’t connect to it and the characters as well. I found it to be overly sad, and while there are happy moments in the book, and some lovely characters, I just felt an overwhelming sadness while reading this. You don’t need to have read Moloka’i in order to appreciate Daughter of Moloka’i. The two books highlight each other, and each tell a complete story, and while we get a continuation of Rachel’s story here, enough is explained about her past that you won’t feel lost while reading.
Bottom Line: Compelling and sad.
LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***
Amazon: Daughter of Moloka’i | Moloka’i
4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert”
Good review. I still have Molaka’i on my TBR shelf after your review of it. This author will be at Copperfields tonight! Talk about NO warning.
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Thanks! Moloka’i is such a great read! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it 🙂
Oh my word! He was at Copperfield’s?? I didn’t see any marketing for that visit at all!! Hopefully he got a great turnout for the visit.
Sorry it took me so long to get to this review. I kept starting it and getting myself confused in the Goodreads synopsis, but I think I wasn’t focused. It sounds like these are companion novels, one added later because readers wanted to know more about this baby given up for adoption. Was it really 15 years between the books’ publications?? I feel like the first one came out only a couple of years ago!
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Wow, I guess it really was 15 years between books! Molokai was so popular that yes, I think readers did really want to know about the daughter’s life. I would label them as companion novels – I don’t feel that you have to read them “in order”. There is enough explained in this one about the main character in Molokai so that you don’t miss anything major, but you also don’t get everything explained so that reading Molokai would feel redundant. They are two separate books that complement each other well.
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