Want to learn more about the island of Molokai or immerse yourself in a great book which features the island? Want to read true life stories about Kalaupapa or see it through the eyes of a fictional teenage girl sent to the peninsula?
Here are excellent books which range from novels to history and memoirs about the island of Molokai as well as a guide book. The descriptions posted are those that accompany the books on the back covers.
Molokai by Alan Brennert
This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.
With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka’i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that “few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel’s story” (mostlyfiction.com).
Molokai by O.A. Bushnell
A novel written by O.A. Bushnell, professor emeritus of medical microbiology and medical history at the University of Hawaii, which tells the journey of Father Damien, Dr. Newman, and a group of other courageous and selfless people who struggle to offer hope and dignity to the inhabitants of a late-nineteenth-century leper (Hansen’s disease) colony. Bushnell is a kama’aina–a “child of the land”–whose grandparents settled in Hawaii in 1879 and 1881.
No Footprints in the Sand – A Memoir of Kalaupapa by Henry Kalahilimoku Nalaielua and Sally-Jo Keala-o-anuenue Bowman
The sand beach that stretches nearly a mile beyond the Kalaupapa wharf was always laid smooth by the tide. Hansen’s disease plays havoc with feet, ulcerating them, crippling them. Such feet walk poorly. And in sand they cannot walk at all. Most patients in Henry’s time left no footprints in that golden sand.
When Henry Nalaielua was diagnosed with Hansen’s disease in 1936 and taken from his home and family, he began a journey of exile that led him to Kalaupapa—the remote settlement with the tragic history on the Hawaiian island of Moloka‘i. During its century as a virtual prison, more than 8,000 people were exiled to Kalaupapa, until the introduction of sulfone drugs in the 1940s. Today fewer than 20 patients remain.
This is Henry’s story—an unforgettable memoir of the boy who grew to build a full and joyous life at Kalaupapa, and still calls it home today. No Footprints in the Sandis one of only a few memoirs ever shared with the public by a Kalaupapa patient. Its intimacy and candor make it, in the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin, “a rare and precious human document.” Nalaielua’s story is an inspiring one; despite exile, physical challenges and the severing of family ties, he has faced life—as an artist, musician and historian—with courage, honesty, hope and humor.
Moon Maui: Including Molokai & Lanai (Moon Handbooks) by Kyle Ellison
Longtime Maui resident Kyle Ellison knows the best ways to experience this beautiful island, from catching a wave in Lahaina to hiking through the Bamboo Forest to strolling Baldwin Beach at sunrise. Ellison includes unique trip ideas like Best Outdoor Adventures and Best of Maui in 10 Days, as well as information on dining, transportation, and accommodations for a wide range of travel budgets. Complete with details on everything from the best beaches and restaurants to when to go for whale watching, Moon Maui gives travelers the tools they need to create a more personal and memorable experience.
Have you read additional Molokai books that you would recommend? Post them in the comments!