by Alan Brennert
PBR Review: Today, there are effective medicines and treatments for Hansenís disease (historically known as Leprosy). The disease is also not as communicable as once thought. However, this book spans 80 years from the late 1800ís to 1970.

During much of this time, Leprosy was feared and severely curtailed the freedom of personís suffering with it. This is the story of Rachel, who is diagnosed with Hansenís disease when she is 6 years old, removed from her family and sent to Kalaupapa, a settlement on the island of Molokaíi. Her story is rich with details of life in a Leprosy Settlement and what it was like to live with a disease dreaded and feared by society.

Through are a variety of characters, Brennert shows that although some refuse to accept the constraints of this condition, many more lead happy fulfilled lives. Some abandon hope as soon as society abandons them, others live and breathe hope.

This is also a book that will provoke debate on many emotionally charged issues. The shame and fear associated with Leprosy, the challenge of living with little freedom and limited resources and no control over your circumstances. This darkness is balanced with examples of the courage and strength of the human spirit that faces adversity and triumphs. In short, this is a complex story and excellent historical fiction for those who enjoy character driven novels with emotional pull.

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