Daughter of Moloka'i

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I adored Moloka'i, so I was thrilled when I had the chance to read the follow up, Daughter of Moloka'i. While it wasn't quite as wonderful, it was still enjoyable, and I'm glad to have read it. The writing is beautiful, almost poetic, but the pacing was a little off for me. At times things felt rushed only to drag a bit later on. Overall, it was a very good book. Just maybe it is hurt by the comparison to Moloka'i.
Was this review helpful?
Only as I come to review this book, did I realise it was part of a series. So, I have read as a stand alone and that worked well. Ruth (Dai) is our lead character and we find her living in a Hawaiian orphanage because her parents both had leprosy and were forced to live on the island of Kalaupapa (a leper colony). They were also forced to give her a birth.

This 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 to Frank and her Japanese families unjust internment at Manzanar Relocation Camp during World War II. Ruth's life is again turned on its head when she receives a letter from a woman who says she is her birth mother. Her name is Rachel.

Ruth and Rachel’s reunion then turns into a 22-year relationship. Two woman who never expected to meet, much less come to love, one another. A second loving mum for Ruth.......twice the love and twice the pain. For Ruth it is a union of discovering a family history she knew nothing about. Who she really is. Half Hawaiian and half Japanese. So we are taken on her journey, unravelling the beauty and history of both cultures.

Only when you get to the end of the story, do you see the evidence (in the acknowledgements) of the huge amounts of research undertaken by the author Alan Brennert. The author's descriptions of leprosy, quarantine, sulfa drugs and internment camps have been extensively researched. Personally, I never knew such atrocities and un-justices were placed on Japanese living in USA at the time of WWII. A journey of discovery for me also.

#DaughterOfMolokai #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
I received an advanced copy of this one.  I just can’t get into it.  This is the story of Ruth, who was given up by her parents who live in a leprosy colony and she is put in an orphanage.  She is then adopted.  I tried several times to get into this one, but I just couldn’t.
Was this review helpful?
Daughter of Molika'i, is the long awaited sequel to Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert.  Moloka'i''s plot  surrounded the life of Rachel, a young girl of Hawaiian ethnicity who, at the age of seven, contracts leprosy and is sent to a leper colony on the island of Moloka'i where she lived for over half a century.   The “Daughter”of Molika'i is Rachel's daughter, Ruth.   Her story is told in three parts:  Ruth's life after her adoption by the Japanese family who took her out of the leper colony and, eventually, to the United States; her life in California and an internment camp, during World War II; and her life after the war ends.  
	Both books are historically relevant fiction about an important time in our past and a side of American history many of us know very little about.  Readers get a clear picture of the leper colony, discrimination in both Hawaii and California and life in Japanese internment camps.
	  While there was nothing innately wrong with Daughter of Molika'i, it didn't live up to the quality of its predecessor.  Both the plot and the story had great potential. Brennert landed his audience in California too fast. Ruth's life in Hawaii was rushed and the reader is denied sufficient character development.  We were  expected to just accept her life with her adoptive family and the strong, empathic person she becomes. 
	  Brennert's writing can be beautiful, poetic and his storytelling a great way to learn history.  Sadly it was his storytelling that didn't work this time. I was really enjoying his telling of Ruth's life in California and the plight of the Japanese Americans during WWII but needed a good strong editor.   His writing was poor and there were too many shopworn phrases.  I wondered if Brennert was tired of the storyline and just wanted to get the promised sequel finished or, maybe, he thought his old research could cover up for the fact that his heart wasn't in it.
	I will give Daughter of Molika'i three stars because the history and some of Brennert's scenery and narrative make it work it, especially those readers who have not read his previous novels and do not have the high expectations that I did.  I look forward to his next novel, hoping it is as fresh and exciting as Moloka'i.
Was this review helpful?
I read Moloka'i about four years ago, after one of my high school students suggested that I read it. We also read it for our book club. I absolutely loved Moloka'i. There was so much history and emotion packed into that novel, and it is one that has always stayed with me. When I saw that Brennert was coming out with a sequel to Moloka'i, I was thrilled! I had high hopes and expectations going into DOM, and I am happy to report that it did not let me down! DOM was just as beautiful as the first one. I felt like I really connected to both Ruth and Rachel's characters and stories. As a mother, my heart ached for Rachel. As a daughter, my heart ached for Ruth. I can't even begin to describe the emotion that I felt while reading this book. There were even a couple of parts that left me in tears. Brennert has a way of completely pulling you into the story, and making you forget that you are reading about fictional characters. The prose was beautiful and moving, and I loved getting to know Rachel and Ruth. Just like Moloka'i, Daughter of Moloka'i will continue to stay with me. 5/5 stars. If you haven't read this one yet, what are you waiting for? Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free review copy of this book!
Was this review helpful?
What a beautiful followup to the first book. It was great to hear more of Rachels story and I found it to be heartbreaking and moving. This one wasn't quite as much of a pageturner as the first book was for me but I definitely still enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
Would you part from your child to give it a better life ?
The story of the people afflicited with leprocy and their difficult lives and decisions.
This book gives a very different view of the paradise of Hawaii.
Enlightening read
Was this review helpful?
Summary: In the Kapi’olani Home for Girls on O’ahu, three-year-old Ruth is a lively handful. Ruth loves animals and wants a pet of her own. But as loving as the nuns in the Catholic orphanage are, they must maintain the strict rules and can’t allow Ruth to be an exception.

But Ruth is already an exception in the Hawaiian orphanage. While all the other girls are also children of lepers, they are of pure Hawaiian heritage.  Ruth is different. She is hapa, someone of mixed heritage. Ruth is half Japanese, born to her parents who met in the leper colony on Moloka’i. When potential adoptive parents meet her, they turn away, not wanting to take on a child who not only carries the stigma of leprosy but is also hapa.

Finally, a Japanese couple adopts Ruth. She becomes Ruth Dai Watanabe and lives with her two brothers and new parents in Chinatown. She learns to speak Japanese and is taught their customs. Ruth thrives in the love of her adoptive family, but she is still hapa.

The novel follows Ruth as her family moves to California. There she grows up and has a family of her own. But after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Ruth and all the other people of Japanese descent on the west coast are rounded up in concentration camps or sent back to Japan. After the camps are closed, Ruth and her family return to California to try to put their lives back together. It is after going through all this that Ruth gets a surprise and finally learns to accept her heritage.

Comments: I absolutely loved the first Moloka'i book and wasn’t disappointed by this sequel, Daughter of Moloka'i. While the first takes place almost exclusively on the island, this one reflects the changes in the treatment of lepers, both socially and medically, and moves to the greater world. A large portion of the book takes place in the Japanese internment camps and from the resources listed in the back of the book, I know the descriptions and details were well researched. In writing about Ruth’s mixed heritage and the atrocity of rounding up the Japanese Americans (and not rounding up the German Americans, for example), the author makes some profound observations of what it’s like to be non-white in America. What happened to the Japanese is not “in the past”. It happened and continues to happen to Native Americans, Blacks and currently to Hispanics and others. Fear and ignorance are powerful forces that destroy people’s lives.

Highly recommended for readers of Historical Fiction, General Fiction and Literary Fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the storytelling in this book! I loved how I went through the emotions with the characters. This book is a must read!
Was this review helpful?
I didn't know Daughter of Moloka'i was a sequel to Moloka'i, a novel released in 2004. Nevertheless, I still found it to be a very emotional and poignant read. I would highly recommend it to my fellow historical fiction buffs!
Was this review helpful?
Daughter of Molokai is an emotional story about a girl named Ruth. She is born to a leper couple in the early 20th century, at a time when leprosy was greatly feared. Any children who had leper parents were sent away to orphanages for adoption. Ruth spends all her early years in care of sisters at an orphanage, and she endures the repeated rejections of potential parents coming to judge her and choosing another girl. So when she is 5 years old and she is told that a Japanese couple wants to meet her, she doesn’t  hold out much hope. Ruth is half Hawaiian and half Japanese, and when she meets the Japanese couple she knows something is different this time. Ruth is adopted by Etsuko and Taizo Watanabe. 

She begins a new journey learning all the customs of Japanese people, and when she gets older her family relocates to California to assist her father’s bother with his farm. They settle in and make a comfortable life, with Ruth growing into a beautiful, young woman. She eventually marries, and has two children, a boy and a girl. Their world’s are given a violent jolt upside down when WW11 strikes and all the Japanese are interred following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Years of uncertainty follow. The War ends eventually and Ruth and her family move on and rebuild.

The story is a roller coaster of sadness and joy.  A patchwork quilt of life’s various difficulties and triumphs. I was sucked in and captivated by the epic tale of Ruth and her family. Definitely, a worthwhile read .
Was this review helpful?
Review on Goodreads, Blog (in process), Twitter (in progress), Facebook (in progress, Amazon

5 Stars

Full Blog Review in Progress.

Brennert knocks it out of the ballpark with this follow-up with to Moloka'i. Readers are quickly sucked into to characters we grew to love in the first book in the series and a storyline that starts off immediately. 

Despite nearly 15 years since the publishing of the first book in series, Brennert allowed for a seamless reminder of incidents from the first book. 

I don't see this as being as a stand alone book nor would I want to. If you haven't read the first book in the series, do yourself a favor and read Moloka'i prior to reading this book. You will be happy you did.
Was this review helpful?
Great historial read. Such a great story telling of truths and struggles in life during this time period and that are also true for today. 
Enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
Daughter of Moloka'I by Alan Brennert is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication. 

Vivid and poignant, very effective and emotional! 

It took me a long time to get around to reading Moloka’i, and I deeply regretted putting it off for so long. However, on the positive side, having read it so close to the publication date of this long anticipated follow up, all the details were still very fresh in my mind. Remembering the many reasons why Ruth was placed for adoption so clearly, experiencing her story first hand, was more touching and heart wrenching and the story is felt more powerful and intense. 

To recap-
Ruth’s parents were both inflicted with leprosy and lived on the island of Moloka’i in Hawaii. Ruth was free of the disease, but her parents had to give her up so that she could live a full and happy life. Ruth is biracial- part Hawaiian and part Japanese. Her adoptive parents are Japanese, and Ruth is also blessed with having older brothers. Her life is good, her parents love her, but Ruth has to cope with racism and prejudice aimed at her because she of her mixed race. She also experienced cultural misogyny and sexism. However, Ruth’s life changes forever, when her parent move from Hawaii to California, hoping to own and work their own land. Sadly, they were misled, and things didn’t work out for them quite the way they planned. However, Ruth grows up, gets married, and starts her own family. However, life as she knows it comes to an abrupt halt when the Japanese invade Pearl Harbor. Ruth and her family are among the many Japanese Americans rounded up and sent to the internment camps. Although she makes the best of the situation, it also leaves her embittered. 

Eventually, the story merges with that of Ruth’s mother, Rachel, who is now widowed and declared free of her leprosy. The mother and daughter finally meet and forge a bittersweet relationship. 

I strongly urge anyone considering this book to read the first Moloka'i beforehand. The story will not have the same impact if you are not aware of Rachel’s backstory and the hopes she had for Ruth. 

The bulk of the story is centered around Ruth’s life in the internment camps and the horrible injustices bestowed on these American citizens. I’m glad this period of history is spoken of more frequently now, and more closely examined.

I never heard a great deal about the plight of the Japanese Americans during world war two, until a little over a decade or so back. It was not a topic that came up frequently, and when it did, it was quickly glossed over. 

The more I learned about it the conditions of the relocation camps, the way these families were stripped of everything they had worked for, the more mortified I became. This was certainly not a shining moment in US history. Although many years later, some acknowledgments and apologies were eventually forthcoming, and a pittance was given the survivors, it doesn’t come close to compensating for what these endured and lost. 

This is a period in history that should get more exposure, especially in the classroom. While I would like for us to learn from the past and be ever more diligent not to repeat our mistakes, I hold my breath, wondering when- not if- this same exact thing will happen again. 

This story personalizes the struggles of those in California who were forced to live in the camps, and once released were forced to start building their lives all over again from scratch. Living through these times, seeing it from Ruth’s perspective certainly gave me pause. Ruth is a strong character, who endured much, felt deep convictions, and although she never fully released her bitterness, her life was enriched by her adoptive family, her husband and children, and eventually, by having the chance to forge a relationship with Rachel. 

This novel has an entirely different tone from its predecessor. It’s not as tender, has a sharper edge to it, more befitting of the situation, I suppose. I think Ruth’s character is as sympathetic as Rachel’s, but the era of time the story is written in, as well as the dynamics between Ruth’s adoptive family, which was also quite intense at times, makes the atmosphere heavier and the characters tougher, but equally resilient. 

I would caution against starting this one with preconceived notions. Don’t expect the same type of emotional elements, or tragic poignancy as Moloka’i. It is certainly different, but I appreciated it and found it to be a very compelling novel. I must confess, I enjoyed seeing Rachel and Ruth reunited, and although Rachel continued to suffer loss and lingering health issues, she lived a full life, as did Ruth, both women overcoming adversity, getting on with the business of life and living, and appreciating every moment they were alive – and FREE!
Was this review helpful?
Five Reasons Why Daughter of Moloka'i Should Be Next on Your List to Read: 
1. The timeline and accuracy of events is perfectly executed. Plus, this facet of WWII is so underrepresented, that I can do nothing but commend the author for taking the time to so vividly portray the Japanese American side to the war. .

2. If you have read Moloka'i your heart will sing as you read some of the cameos and tie-ins throughout this one. Unlike some sequels where the main character is played by a different actor, or the storyline is barely tepid, this sequel can stand on it’s own, and the sequel part is just an added benefit. .

3. The balance between triumph and tragedy is spot on. Just when I felt as though I couldn't take any more horrible-ness, something truly beautiful would shine through and have me whipping to the next page. . .

4. This is a true historical fiction book. You know how some historical fiction are a lot less historical and mainly just fiction with a whisper of history? This isn’t like that. I was living, breathing, and feeling the time periods to the fullest through the characters’ eyes. .
5. Finishing this book was like finishing your favorite meal. You sit back, take a deep breath, and feel 100% satisfied with the experience. I loved every. Single. Minute. of this book. .
I give this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for being a perfect sequel to one of my favorite books. Thank you @stmartinspress for my #egalley of this one. I loved it so much I had to go buy my own hardcover.
Was this review helpful?
4.2 - another fascinating historical novel from Alan Brennert; I felt like it lost some speed in the last 1/3, but it was still illuminating about life in California and Hawaii during/after WWII
Was this review helpful?
Wow! This is a breathtaking novel that took me on an unexpected, yet highly gratifying journey. The characters (Moloka'i, Rachel, and Ruth) are conveyed realistically and I could tell the author spent time researching what life was like during this time. I have not read Moloka'i, but I am third in line for it at the library.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed hearing Ruth’s story in this sequel to Moloka’i but it somehow lacked the impact the first book had on me when I read it several years ago. Watching Ruth discover her birth mother truly loved her and seeing Rachel become a large part of her life was a satisfying conclusion to the combined stories. But I think the real strength in the sequel was the time the family spent in the Japanese Internment Camp in California. This is an event in history that is often shoved under the carpet and ignored so I appreciated Bennett’s honest portrayal of it.  All in all, it was a solid 3 star read for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Uplifting, poignant, fascinating...these are some of the words I would use to describe this historical saga. I recently read Moloka’i to prepare for this book and I’m really glad I did. It added a layer of depth, knowing Rachel and the start of her daughter’s story. The plot starts with Ruth being taken to the orphanage as an infant where she lives for five years before being adopted by a Japanese family. The reader is pulled into the prose about Japanese culture, the rampant racism thatJapanese Americans experienced in the early 20th century and the WW2 internment camps. 

It is a sweeping tale that comes full circle to Rachel’s life on Moloka’i. Brilliantly told, this is a book that will captivate most readers and touch your heart. I was thrilled to get an ARC from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I recommend both this story and Moloka’i for folks who enjoy historical fiction stories.
Was this review helpful?
The characters in this book are so rich the reader will forget they are fictional.  Alan Brennert shows the strengths and flaws with equal measure – enduring them to us even if we don’t like what they do.  Vivid pictures of each person are developed through specific details and readily flowing dialogue.

The horror of the way the United States treated innocent Japanese Americans and their families during WWII is brought to the forefront.  The book describes the uninhabitable camps, the reprehensible way they were forced to live, and the maltreatment displayed in everyday life.  The descriptions are clear and the reader has little trouble in picturing the filthy conditions.

I loved this book.  The story will resonate with the reader long after the back cover is closed.
Was this review helpful?