I'm a sci-fi writer and reader, although, let's be honest - I'll read just about anything that moves me, regardless of the genre.
Given to me by a friend who has also visited to Kalaupapa, I started Moloka'i with hesitation. After visiting Kalaupapa, I'd heard from friends who work there that Brennert visited the settlement and was rather closed about his true motivations for interviewing the patients and staff of the peninsula. In Hawaii it's more than poor form to appropriate a culture that's not yours and the vibe I got was that Brennert did that in writing Moloka'i.
Still, I started Moloka', and then almost immediately put it down. It's hard to write from a child's perspective, particularly if you are a man writing about a little girl's perspective, and Brennert was doing just that. He also had a lot of, in my opinion, fluffy adjectives, and I just hate the over use of adjectives.
Encouraged by friends to keep reading, I did, and I'll be honest, I was glad I did. I don't know if I liked Moloka'i because it felt like visiting an old friend (Hawaii) or because I was just that into the story, but I read the book in a matter of days.
As I've said, I've visited Kalaupapa, and spent a fair amount of time in Oahu, so I could place a lot of the areas Brennert talked about. I've stayed in the guest quarters in the settlement, shopped at the store, hiked up the pali trail and climbed to the top of the light house. I've been to Kalawao, seen the remnants of the leprosy investigation station. It's one of the awing places I've ever been. The amount of history on that peninsula is staggering, and you can feel it. Without sounding overly cheesy, Kalaupapa is hallowed ground, and even as someone from the mainland, I could pick up on it.
Which is probably why I ended up enjoying Moloka'i so much. I have no idea if everything Brennert wrote is true, but his use of details transported me back to the peninsula, and I was happy to go.
If you're interested in Hawaii, America, or the history of people in general, you'll find Moloka'i an interesting look into an often overlooked part of the not so distant past.