Meet author Alan Brennert on his U.S. tour for Daughter of Moloka'i, the long-awaited follow-up to his book club classic, Moloka'i. In this companion novel, Brennert reunites us with the characters that readers fell in love with fifteen years ago.
While Moloka'i told the story of Rachel Kalama, a leprosy patient exiled to the remote colony of Kalaupapa in the 1890s, Brennert's new book follows Rachel's daughter Ruth across the Pacific to California, where she is raised by the Japanese couple who adopted her. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Ruth and her family are forced to leave their homes and businesses and are unjustly imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp for the duration of the war.
Brennert paints a vivid and emotional portrait of the shocking conditions that Japanese-American families endured in concentration camps constructed by the U.S. government on American soil. The story is grimly relevant in today's political climate, as the current administration builds detention centers along the southern border, brutally separates young children from their parents, and vilifies immigrants based on the color of their skin.
It is wise to learn from our mistakes, and Daughter of Moloka'i shines a light on a dark historical moment that readers—and leaders—would do well to remember.
About the book
This companion tale 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 strawberry and grape 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. Told in vivid, evocative 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.
As Shakespeare knew, well-written words aren’t likely to disappear, as long as the human race endures. How do you participate in the eternal trendiness of books?