Book Review: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Written on: February 28, 2020

Who is not fascinated by the plight of people living with leprosy, not just in Biblical times but right into our own lifetimes? 

I became interested in this book partly because some Franciscan Sisters in Buffalo, N.Y., who served at the Home for Lepers in Moloka’i  started by their Foundress, are still alive today.

This is the story of a young girl diagnosed with Leprosy and taken from her home, banished from her family, and sent to a facility for Lepers.

It chronicles the ways she emerges from deep grief and finds ways to live life fully, such as learning to ride the ocean waves on her surfboard.

Fr. Damien and Sr. Maryanne Cope are minor figures in the novel, given credit for their dedication but also painting them as strong disciplinarians.

I enjoyed this novel because it highlights the work of priests and sisters who were brave enough to risk their lives caring for people with a contagious disease.

But mostly, I felt drawn into a life of a young woman whose strong spirit enabled her to overcome a great challenge and find ways to live a full life.

Submitted by: Sr. Donna M. Lord, GNSH


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