I give Daughter of Moloka’i 3.5 stars. The novel starts with a strong story but loses its footing mid-book.
Ruth is given to a convent as a baby to help foster an adoption. But Ruth is like no other girl: she is hapa, half Japanese and half Hawaiian. If that wasn’t enough, her parents live in Moloka’i and have been forced to give up their daughter because they have leprosy. Ruth is luckily to grow up in a stable Japanese home, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed, Ruth must go to the internment camps and give up every part of her life she has fought for.
I vaguely understood this was a sequel to another, much older novel. That being said, the book sets itself up with a great story about Ruth, and I didn’t feel like I was lost without reading the first one. This intoxicating story gives readers a look into what it was like in the camps and was emotionally moving. But suddenly the book takes a sharp turn, and it becomes about the original novel. I suddenly found myself not understanding what was going on. I felt sorry for the character of Ruth because this book is used to finish that character’s tale from the first novel putting Ruth on the backburner. Since I had not read the original, I was not invested in Rachel, and I wanted to see more in-depth what Ruth’s family would do after the internment camps.
The book is lush and beautiful. I loved reading the descriptions of Hawaii and learning more about not just Hawaiian culture but also and Japanese. I am personally very fond of learning about the Oriental cultures and how those who follow those cultures adapt to life in America. So the first portion of the book was just my style.
Unfortunately, Alana Brennert lost Ruth along the way and lost my interest. I highly suggest you read the original novel Moloka’i first.
Publication Date February 19
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.