Daughter of Moloka'i

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Feb 2019

Member Reviews


A few years ago I read the book Moloka'i by Alan Brennert for my local book club and everyone enjoyed it.  When I saw that the sequel was in the works, I was very excited to see Rachel's story continue.

Daughter of Moloka'i is a book about Rachel's daughter, Ruth, who was born inside a lepers' colony in 1917.  Because Rachel was quarantined for most of her life to due leprosy, (those with the disease were forced to live on Moloka'i and be quarantined...a life sentence), Rachel was forced to give up her daughter for adoption immediately after birth.  This book continues the story of Ruth's life after she was adopted.

This book is divided into three parts:
Hapa (a native Hawaiian word that means half - Ruth is half Japanese and half Hawaiian)
Gaman: Japanese term of Buddhist origin that means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity:
Ohana: Hawaiian word that means family

The first part details Ruth's life in the orphanage, and her transition into her new life as an adopted daughter.  The story follows this family's journeys to begin a new life in California in the 1920s.  Ruth is adopted into a loving Japanese family and she quickly learns what it means to be Japanese and learn their customs and traditions.  They begin a new chapter in California where there are many anti-Japanese groups in the Sacramento area.  As time passes, and the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor occurs, President FDR then orders for all residents of Japanese descent (citizens or not), to be sent to live in the Internment Camps.

The second part of the book is about their life preparing to go, and to eventually live in the Internment Camps.  This sparked my curiosity in learning more about the families who made up the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were sent to live in these awful camps for 1-2 years.  The family endured hardships, both physically and emotionally, (they lived in a horse stall!), but strived to stick together in order to endure.

The third part of the book centers around an adult Ruth, who is learning the story of her origins and how her family grows and adapts as she reconnects with her past.

This is my 3rd novel to enjoy by Alan Brennert and his writing is very strong, thoroughly researched, and really draws you in. His character driven novels draw you close to Rachel and her family.  I truly enjoyed the book, and I appreciate the opportunity to access an Advanced Readers Copy for review.

I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Daughter of Moloka'i will be released on Tuesday, February 20!
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Daughter of Moloka'i is the anticipated follow-up to Alan Brennert's highly successful, book club favorite Moloka'i, the evocative story of Rachel, a woman with leprosy who is forced to surrender her child, Ruth, upon birth. This is Ruth's story.

Daughter of Moloka'i is told in three very distinct parts: Ruth's life after she is removed from the leper colony, adopted and her subsequent move to the states; her time spent in an internment camp during WWII, and then her life after the war ends. Brennert's prose is atmospheric and descriptive which allows the reader to embrace a sense of both the Hawaiian and Japanese cultures as well as the horrors of the depression and war. However, there are times that a bit of self-editing would have gone long way. Like William Faulkner, Brennert suffers from the need to use 15 words when one very well placed adjective would suffice. This resulted in the book dragging in several places. In addition, it has been stated in pre-publication reviews that this book works as a stand-alone. It doesn't, not really. If you've read the first book I can understand that you might think so. If you have not read the first book, you will find yourself trying to fill several story gaps. 

I appreciate other readers' rave review for this one. It is a lovely book but not one that I savored or can fully recommend. 

Thank you to #netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review Daughter of Moloka'i.
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Release date February 19th!

On December 7, 1941 more than 2,000 Americans lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.  In the days that followed, intolerance and prejudice would lead to the ouster and internment of over 100,000 Americans of Japanese heritage.  

Alan Brennert does such a fine job of bringing our buried history to light.  Where Moloka'i focused on hysteria surrounding leprosy, this second installation bears witness to the Japanese internment camps during WWII.  Daughter of Moloka'i, like its predecessor is a sweeping saga that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit.  I do not know what took me so long to find my way to Moloka'i but I'm glad that I had the opportunity to read these two books.  Both of the protagonists were well developed and their story lines resonate as a warning for our current time.  Although either book can easily be read as stand alone novels, I was pleased with how well Daughter of Moloka'i incorporated Rachel's story and allowed the reader to revisit their reunion and see their relationship grow.  

Special thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Alan Brennert for access to this book.
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I do realize that my opinion and review is totally outlier. I totally respect all the 4 and 5 star reviews that are out there, but that was not my experience with this book and I cannot, in good faith, write a review that matches the masses when that is not my experience.

I L O V E D Moloka'i. Loved it. What a beautiful, lush, amazing book. I was completely captivated from the first page and while I have loved Hawaii for years [my grandparent's took multiple trips there and always brought us back gifts and stories and several of my favorite books are set there and one of the first biographies I ever read as a young girl was about the last Queen of Hawaii], but I actually knew little about Moloka'i and Kalaupapa and all that went on for the poor people who developed Leprosy. So while it was an amazing book, it was also educational and made me want to book a trip to Hawaii to be able to and pay my respects to the people that suffered and lived there.

Fast forward to Daughter of Moloka'i [which, in all fairness, was not even on my radar. My bestie read Moloka'i and then found out about the sequel and convinced me [strongly] to read Moloka'i and request Daughter of Moloka'i to read with her], which I was pretty excited to dive into since I had just finished Moloka'i and was still awash in the glow and hangover that came from reading that book. And so I started and well....it was just meh. And I thought, "Okay, its just a slow start, that is okay", and then I was at 40% and I still felt that way and I checked in with my friend and she was where I was too and we were like "what the HECK went wrong?", and that feeling just continued as I read on.

To quote my friend Joy Walsh "I believe Brennert likes Rachel much more than he likes Ruth." and I agree with that. The story of Rachel just flows and sucks you in while the story of Ruth feels like its being forced and seems flat and disingenuous until she meets Rachel and when they are back in Hawaii and then, and ONLY then, does the story begin to flow again. All the time in California is very flat and one dimensional. Even the time spent in the interment camps [and I have read 4 books before this about that time - it is HORRIFIC and should absolutely have never happened and is a huge stain on this country that we are still dealing and healing from - IF you want an excellent book about this time, I suggest "When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka or IF you can find it {I found one copy on Thriftbooks, but I have seen it in the Reader's Digest version on eBay} "East and West" by Gerald Green 
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This was a great sequel to Moloka'i of which I read 4 years ago. I don't think you need to read the first one to appreciate "Daughter of Moloka'i" however, I'd recommend it if you haven't. They are both lovely books full of great characters, historical fiction, and beautifuly written imagery. 

"Daughter of Moloka'i" is the story of Ruth, Rachel's daughter from book 1, who is adopted at the age of 5 by a Japanese family living in Hawaii. The story is fast paced as we follow Ruth's life from childhood, to adolescence to middle age. A large chunk of the story is devoted to the time Ruth and her family spent in an internment camp in California when the US entered WWII. The author did a great job acurately depicting the injustice of these internment camps. Post-war, the book moves a bit faster as each chapter is devoted to a time period and significant event in Ruth's life. 

My only complaint was that parts of Ruth's character didn't seem as authentic, for instance, her speech in the 1940's seemed a little out of place and her slang was a bit jarring as I didn't really believe it would've been used in that time period. With that said, this is a great book and both book #1 and #2 would be an excellent gift for that fan of historical fiction in your life!
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This is a beautifully researched and written sequel to the beloved original Molokai.  It is difficult to read about the Japanese internment camps, but it is a part of our nation’s history.  We learn something from these books, as most of us know nothing about leprosy and the harsh realities of that life.  This is a lovely story with characters that you care about.  It is both heart-breaking and heart-warming.
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I was given an advanced readers copy of Daughter of Moloka'i by Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. I read the prequel by Alan Brennert, Moloka'i and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to read more about Rachel's daughter, Ruth. Ruth was adopted by a Japanese family living in California and their lives through the decades. The book discusses the Japanese internment during World War II, which is something I knew very little about. It also tells Ruth's side of the story when she is contacted by her biological mother as an adult and their relationship after that. Daughter of Moloka'i is a beautiful, yet sad book. Brennert is able to weave historical and fiction together that tells a story that feels true. I would encourage you to read Daughter of Moloka'i even if you have not read Moloka'i.
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I was so excited to read the sequel to a most incredible story, Moloka’i. Unfortunately, Daughter of Moloka’i falls quite short of its predecessor. The story and characters seem to flatten  as soon as the setting moves from Hawaii to California. The account of the internment camps is quite similar, if not as engaging and memorable, as others I have read. 

I believe Brennert likes Rachel much more than he likes Ruth. When Rachel is in the story, there is a return to the rich emotional depth and beauty that made Moloka’i so amazing.  Book 2 has flashes of that magic, but is, for the most part, disappointing.
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An amazing epic novel that follows the life of an orphan whose mother had leprosy and was forced to place her in an orphanage. She was also mixed race leading her to experience many challenges. Love, friendships, family and American history (not our proud parts) are depicted in this story. I learned a lot and truly enjoyed the gorgeous scenery described in parts. This book has something for everyone!
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Years and years ago, someone recommended Moloka’i by Alan Brennert and I remember thinking, “Meh, doesn’t sound like something I’d like but I’ll give it a whirl…” and I ended up loving it. I have had this reaction many times and have been pleasantly surprised over the years. Now I am really excited to read Daughter of Moloka’i which is coming out later this month! YAY!

I haven’t read the whole thing yet but wanted to be sure to put this book on your radar as it will be here on February 19. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

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.

From the early reviews, this is another winning novel. rich in detail and well researched with a gripping plot. So exciting when you get to read the sequel to a book you loved!
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Oh where to start. This author just knows how to write a historical fiction book. I am so sad it’s over. Yet loved it so much. I have so many reactions and emotions to this book I don’t know how to put them into words. I’m so in awe at how brennert can write a sequel that is also a stand-alone. It’s impressive. All his books are a must read.
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Can I give this book SIX stars?? If you've followed my blog or any bookish social media postings I've made regarding my all time favorite books, Moloka'i is at the top of my list. I reviewed it here on the blog in April 2014. It gives some good background to the first book and why I loved it so much, but I HIGHLY recommend you read the first book before reading this one. For one, Moloka'i is fantastic, and for two, this book will mean so much more if you've read the first one. Go to the bookstore right now and buy both of them! You will thank me!!

I'll admit I was worried when I first heard about this one. Sometimes sequels aren't nearly as good, and fans of Moloka'i have been waiting YEARS for this one. I'm happy to report--this one was absolutely worth the wait and JUST AS GOOD as Moloka'i!  I can't believe I doubted Brennert here--I loved his other Hawaiian novel, Honolulu. PLEASE write more Hawaii books, Mr. Brennert! I'll never doubt you again!

I feel like Ruth is my soul sister. Her love for animals touched my heart and reminded me of myself and my grandma. I too loved animals from a very young age. The historical aspect of Japanese internment camps during World War 2 was also interesting, and sad of course, but I learned so much about that period of history. The last third of the book was when Ruth connected with Rachel, and just gave me all the feels and tears. This was a beautifully written, well researched, fantastic book that is included in my all time list of favorite books, along with Moloka'i. I can't say enough good things about this book--it is an absolute must read!
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A splendid continuation of a beautiful story.  I truly thought nothing could touch me as Molokai did, I was wrong. My emotions rode a roller coaster as I followed Ruth from  her life of isolation on Molokai to a new beginning in California.  Her new home and adopted family, Japanese farmers, held the promise of a brighter future. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Ruth was again the victim of isolation in the internment camp Manzanar.  Woven through this story is the relationship Ruth shares with Rachael whom she learns is her birth mother.  Two women in vastly different situations, yet remarkably alike, learn to share a love long thought impossible.  Daughter of Molokai is a window into both Hawaiian and Japanese cultures amidst the difficulties of life, family and love.
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Amazing historical fiction! Daughter of Moloka'i, while works as a stand alone, is the perfect sequel to Moloka'i. Brennert fills in the shadows of his first with this beautiful new novel. Beginning with Ruth's infanthood and following her story through childhood, the insanity of the Japanese internment camps of WW2, and finally the years were she is reunited with the woman who started it all. Every page was beautifully written and full of thought provoking prose. I absolutely loved this book!! Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC.
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Ruth, the daughter of two patients at Moloka'i is adopted by the Watanabes,  a Japanese couple, when she's just a child.  They keep her history from her- it's enough that she's half Japanese and half Hawaiian= but that doesn't bother her.  This story sweeps from Honolulu to California to Manzanar and back and much of it focuses on the time she spent with her family in the internment camps.  That will never be right.  The Watanabes, Ruth, and her husband Frank lose so much in material goods but never their sense of family devotion.  And, Ruth, an animal lover from childhood, always has a pet, even at the camp when she rescues Snowball.  This is a deeply emotional and yet restrained novel although there are some truly heartbreaking scenes.  Wait for the end.  For fans of Molokai, you should know that there's very little about the leper facility.  It's perfect as a standalone.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  A very good (and educational) read.
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I was so very excited to see that Alan Brennert wrote a second book about Moloka'i.

This book could easily be read as a stand-alone, however, I think it really enhances it by reading Moloka'i first.  Daughter of Moloka'i is not about the the leprosy colony of Moloka'i.  It is about a daughter that is born to lepers in the colony.  The daughter's name is Ruth.  Ruth is adopted to a Japanese-American family and then moved to California.  The move to California coincides with WWII.  This book is predominately about Ruth and her family in the relocation camps after Pearl Harbor.

I really enjoy Brennert's descriptive writing.  His descriptions of Hawaii and California are beautiful.  The time frame of this book is from the 1930's until the 1960's.  There is so much that happens in that time frame, that there were times where the story felt rushed.  I could have read about the relocation camps in more detail.  (Now, I am going to go find more books about them)

I am so glad that Brennert did write this follow up book.  Not quite as good as the first, but still worth reading.
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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.
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“Daughter of Moloka’i” follows the life of Ruth, an orphan, who was given up for adoption by her parents who suffered from leprosy. It is the sequel to Brennert’s first book, “Moloka’i,” which tells the story of Ruth’s biological mother (Rachel) who was taken from her family and sent to a quarantined leprosy settlement called Kalaupapa. I enjoyed reading “Daughter of Moloka’i” as a stand-alone book, but my reading experience possibly could have been enhanced if I had read both books back-to-back. (Hindsight is 20/20, of course.)

While Ruth does not have leprosy, it takes her a long time to be adopted because she is half-Japanese and half-Hawaiian. Eventually, Ruth is adopted by a kind family. She and her family later move from Hawaii to California where her father plans to farm. Ruth marries and has two children. Unfortunately, Ruth and her entire family end up being placed in the WWII Japanese American internment camps under Executive Order No. 9066. There, they try their best to make the best of a very bad situation. I don’t want to say anymore because I don’t want to give away the rest of this wonderful story. 

I can’t recommend this book enough. So many things resonated with me about this story – the adoption issues, the racism Ruth and her family endured even though they were US citizens, and Ruth’s unwavering love of animals. (Even at a very young age, Ruth knew that if she was kind to animals, they repaid that kindness and never disappointed her the way people did.) Make sure to read the author’s note at the end. It is very informative and shows how thoroughly he researched this historical fiction book. 

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reading copy from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own. The book goes on sale February 19, 2019.
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Daughter of Molokai is the first novel I’ve read by Alan Brennert.  This novel introduced me to a part of history that often goes unnoticed.  My heartstrings were tugged at so many times while reading.  I high,y recommend reading this upcoming novel.

I was given an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley.
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I loved this story.  My only complaint is that the characters didn’t spend enough time in Hawaii.  The setting was one of the things that made Molokai so wonderful to read.  While Daughters of Molokai is an engaging continuation of that story, I was expecting a bit more of the Hawaiian atmosphere.

In Alan Brennert’s sequel, readers follow the child Ruth as she is put in an orphanage and eventually adopted.  I felt her adoptive family was so pivotal to the story.  As Ruth adjusts to her new family, she eventually forgets her life in the orphanage.  The family endures many changes throughout her growing up years.

A major event in their lives was the move to California, where her father learns some unsettling news about his older brother.   Later, the bombing of Pearl Harbor leads to the incredibly sad time Ruth and her family spend in an internment camp during WWII.  

Growing up, Ruth was often bothered by being “half.”  Half Japanese and half Hawaiian, Ruth was left with a sense of not completely belonging.  Eventually meeting her biological mother and learning more about her Hawaiian culture helps Ruth to reconcile her dual heritage.
Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
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