Moloka'i tells the story of Rachel Kalama, a seven year old girl living in Honolulu in the early 1890's who is diagnosed with leprosy. She is taken away from her family and sent to live, in isolation, with other lepers on the island of Moloka'i. Once there, Rachel and the other residents are well treated and well-cared for. They are able to create full and happy lives for themselves, complete with excursions to the beach, dances, movie nights and a deep sense of family and home. Rachel even finds love and marries. Eventually, a cure for leprosy is found and the residents are given the option to leave Moloka'i and return to their former homes. For many this is a difficult decision to make, but Rachel decides to return to Honolulu to find the family that was stolen from her so long ago.
In spite of the depressing topic and the heartbreaking nature of Rachel's story, Moloka'i is filled with joy, love and courage. And the strength of the human spirit. Moloka'i is well worth reading.