Reading Roundup: Marshall Book Club Favorite of 2014

Posted by Aaron on


In a year of book club reading, it is rare to find a title that is unanimously loved by all readers in the group. Such was the case last November when the Marshall Afternoon Book Club read Moloka’i.

Author Alan Brennert, richly paints a picture of early 20th century Hawaii, while telling the stories of victims of leprosy and their forced deportation to the island of Moloka’i. It is a tragic, yet inspiring, tale of a young girl who is sent to a quarantined settlement at the age of seven. Like many at Kalaupapa, Rachel spends most of her remaining years on the island.

The fear of the disease and the isolation that was forced on its victims brings to mind our world’s current concern with the Ebola virus. Like the medieval plague and the AIDS outbreak in the 1980’s, the stigma surrounding certain diseases has not changed. Those issues proved to be the focus of much of the discussion by members of the book club as we examined “Moloka’i”. Readers are not spared the harsh realities of this history, but we are left recognizing the importance of education and compassion in the face of frightening illnesses that we might not understand.

If Moloka’i intrigues you, you may also enjoy Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks, as it too touches these timeless issues.

Deborah, Branch Manager, John Marshall branch library

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