Running from Moloka'i by Jill P. Anderson
Running From Moloka’i
By Jill P. Anderson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Indie Books
Release Date: November 2020
What would you bet on? The most divisive law in Hawaiian history … or a barefoot girl in love?
Hawaii, 1884. In a fading kingdom, Hawaiians are aching. They have already lost so much. And now, decimated by foreign diseases to which they have no immunity, the native population is close to collapse. Mele Bennett is a half-Hawaiian girl longing for a moment that will define her. She wants a shiny moment! Like when a firebrand is hurled over a cliff and lights up the night sky! But shiny is for keiki, little children.
Instead, Mele will be defined by a deadly disease burning through the islands and a law pitting Hawaiians like her mother against foreigners like her father. Mele’s white physician father upholds the law by signing papers exiling to Moloka`i those with the deadly disease of leprosy—even as her Hawaiian mother secretly defies the law by helping some who are hiding. How does a family survive when they are the sea divided? Hurting over a foreign-made law that separates Hawaiians from their sick loved ones, the islands are a hotbed of conflict
Mele underestimates the forces around her: the power of greed and the tenacity of hatred; the lifelong secret of Keahi, the boy she has loved since childhood; and the heart of her father. She underestimates the power of love, too.
As the disease crumbles their fragile world, Mele, Keahi, and her family will be unfathomably tested--hollowed out and forged anew in moments both life-taking and life-giving in the most painful and conflicted period of Hawaiian history.
Mele is not coming-of-age; she is coming into her mana, her power.
[Hint: Bet on the barefoot girl in love.]
I am not normally a historical fiction person but this book interested me because I absolutely adore Hawaii. I thought that this was an interesting story with a background that I didn’t know much about. Anderson wrote this book with a little bit of everything - historical facts, beautiful landscape, young adult themes, and a little romance.
I enjoyed the characters and the coming-of-age drama that came alongside a pandemic in Hawaii. I thought that it was well written but sometimes was a little confusing to follow along with.
Overall, I really loved the description of the landscape and the characters themselves. This was easily a 4-star read for me and I would recommend this indie book to others.