addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscontroller-playcrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgooglegroupshelp-with-circleimageimagesinstagramFill 1light-bulblinklocation-pinm-swarmSearchmailmessagesminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1ShapeoutlookpersonJoin Group on CardStartprice-ribbonprintShapeShapeShapeShapeImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruserwarningyahoo

The Portsmouth Book Club October - Moloka'i

The book selected for October is Moloka'i by Alan Brennert.  Make sure you get the correct book by ALAN BRENNERT!  There are a couple of books with similar names and similar content!  Here is a description from GoodReads:  

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).

And a review from Publisher's Weekly:

Compellingly original in its conceit, Brennert's sweeping debut novel tracks the grim struggle of a Hawaiian woman who contracts leprosy as a child in Honolulu during the 1890s and is deported to the island of Moloka'i, where she grows to adulthood at the quarantined settlement of Kalaupapa. Rachel Kalama is the plucky, seven-year-old heroine whose family is devastated when first her uncle Pono and then she develop leprous sores and are quarantined with the disease. While Rachel's symptoms remain mild during her youth, she watches others her age dying from the disease in near total isolation from family and friends. Rachel finds happiness when she meets Kenji Utagawa, a fellow leprosy victim whose illness brings shame on his Japanese family. After a tender courtship, Rachel and Kenji marry and have a daughter, but the birth of their healthy baby brings as much grief as joy, when they must give her up for adoption to prevent infection. The couple cope with the loss of their daughter and settle into a productive working life until Kenji tries to stop a quarantined U.S. soldier from beating up his girlfriend and is tragically killed in the subsequent fight. The poignant concluding chapters portray Rachel's final years after sulfa drugs are discovered as a cure, leaving her free to abandon Moloka'i and seek out her family and daughter. Brennert's compassion makes Rachel a memorable character, and his smooth storytelling vividly brings early 20th-century Hawaii to life. Leprosy may seem a macabre subject, but Brennert transforms the material into a touching, lovely account of a woman's journey as she rises above the limitations of a devastating illness. 

The other books nominated were as follows:

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood  (Who will be at The Music Hall on September 18th!  http://www.themusichall.org/calendar/event/margaret_atwood )

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Judgement Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders by Dick Lehr

We the Animals by Justin Torres

We had a fun and vibrant discussion this evening on City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte, as always.  Thanks to all who showed up!  Another large group!  Here is my review of our recent read:  City of Dark Magic Book Review

Join or login to comment.

  • Darien L.

    I was so sorry to miss the discussion about Moloka'i. Was traveling. I found the book well-written, great character development, and a page turner. Yes, heartbreaking at times but, as Monik said, "uplifting at other times. "

    October 9, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      So GLAD to find someone who had almost the same view. It was quite a range of reactions last night!

      October 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I guess I was the only one who liked it without reservation.

    October 9, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Nah, Jaclyn and I, and a few others, loved it!

      October 9, 2013

    • Monik

      I loved the book, just found some parts so heartbreaking. It was very well written and the characters were so well developed I felt I knew them.

      1 · October 9, 2013

  • Monik

    Sorry, can't make it again! I was so looking forward to discussing this book. I loved it and hated it!! I found parts of it almost heartbreaking and too much to bear and other parts wonderfully uplifting. I hope to make the next meeting. Have fun!

    1 · October 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry for the last minute cancellation. I had so hoped to come but work does get in the way. I hope to come next month. Enjoyed the book however parts were hard to read. Little heavy! I learned a lot about the disease. See you next month!

    1 · October 8, 2013

  • Sarah S.

    I'll be late again due to class, but I'll be there. I'm interested to see what people have to say, so hopefully I'll make it before the last person goes this time!

    October 3, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Show up anytime!

      October 7, 2013

  • Darien L.

    So sorry I'll be out of town for the Moloka'i discussion. For me the book was a real page-turner. Well written, captivating, informative about a disease I knew lithe, uplifting in many ways

    October 3, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      October 7, 2013

  • Kipp F.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone again. Enjoyed the book very much.

    October 3, 2013

    • Rebecca

      :-) Great! I think this will be a good discussion.

      October 7, 2013

  • Heather T.

    I look most forward to meeting all of you at the next book club!

    September 15, 2013

    • Heather T.

      Hahahahhahhhaahh :) awesome, Craig :)

      September 15, 2013

    • Rebecca

      "We're not your mother's book club." - our new slogan. :-)

      2 · September 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I finished this book in 3 days! It is a combination of joy, sorrow, history, cultures, you will enjoy it so much.

    2 · September 15, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Glad to hear it, should make for a good discussion! You are an amazingly fast reader!

      September 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I know that this is soon and maybe a drive for people, but I just had my library form a "meetup" group called The Goodwin Library, http://t.co/XFjLqaFPAb. We are having a book discussion meetup for Catcher and the Rye this next Wednesday at 6pm. Come join me in Farmington, NH! And of course, I will be at the next Portsmouth book group meeting!

    1 · September 13, 2013

    • Rebecca

      But I'm sure we have lots of people in the Farmington area who consider Portsmouth to be a hike! Awesome book choice.

      September 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This book sounds interesting. I am looking forward to meeting the group and having a nice discussion. It will be my first book club meeting of any kind~~which makes it more exciting for me.

    September 11, 2013

    • Rebecca

      I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

      September 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    OK~ I just ordered it to my Kindle Fire and I"m off crutches so I can drive my 5speed manual so I will FINALLY get to meet the group and discuss good reading!

    September 11, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Congrats! Hope you feel better!

      September 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    wont make this month ...away for the week. Look forward to october.....Barbara

    September 5, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Hi Barbara. I think you meant to respond to last month's meetup. This one is for October. Hope to see you there!

      September 11, 2013

30 went

Our Sponsors

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy