This was a book we picked for book club. It has been suggested we read and discuss it for more than a year, and we've finally gotten around to it.
I'm not a big reader of Historical Fiction, let alone a reader of Historical Fiction that doesn't revolve around a war. This might even be my first adult experience. (Yes, I've read Little House on the Prairie, don't even front.)
I liked this book. It wasn't life changing for me, but I'm semi-glad I read it. Leprosy is not a subject that I've read a lot about. The Hawaiian culture, pre-US, is not a culture I've read a lot about either. This was a nice pick to diversify our reading choices.
The story follows Rachel's life. Her whole life, from the time she's a wee one to after her death. There's a lot of historical landmarks that take place in this time period: moving pictures, appliances, WWII, air planes, etc.
There were hints of emotion when it came to Rachel, but it was discussed in book club, that Rachel is more like our camera. We're getting the whole picture from her. It was decided among a couple people that the story would have been more interesting and well-rounded if there were multiple narrators and if the time jumped a bit. (This brought on the discussion of how multiple narrators weren't really a "thing" in the 2000s, but it's all the rage in the 2010s.)
It's well-written. I appreciate the amount of research the author seemingly put into this book. That being said, we also talked about the author being a white male writing about a Hawaiian female with Leprosy and the effectiveness on this.
I do recommend if you like books about people. Just a warning: the copy I had had small margins and little print, so it went a little slower than I wanted. However, I was able to finish this book in under two weeks. (I didn't read it every day.)
This book is great for a book discussion book: There are questions in the back of the book to spark conversation. There's also a ton to talk about without being prompted. Lots of themes, characters, and viewpoints that could ignite interesting banter.