Book Review: The Queen of Moloka’i Book 1

From before the Great War to after, Julia Wright yearns for romance, but romance often leads to hardship.

From before the Great War to after, Julia Wright yearns for romance, but romance often leads to hardship. With two young boys born out of wedlock, she soon realizes it isn’t romance she seeks but love in The Queen of Moloka’i.

The Queen of Moloka’i, written by Kirby Michael Wright, is based on the true story of Julia Wright, the author’s grandmother. Winner of the 2018 Redwood Empire Mensa Award for Creative Nonfiction, Wright’s story-telling brings this creative memoir to life.

My Thoughts on The Queen of Moloka’i

The Queen of Moloka’i contains the story of Julia Wright, a teenager during the Great War who reached womanhood as the roaring twenties approached. At sixteen, Julia finds herself pregnant by an Englishman who promises to send for her but abandons her instead. Then, a rebound relationship leaves her pregnant a second time, and she finds herself with two young boys and no husband.

Julia loved life and dreamed of settling down with someone willing to love her in return. Chipper, a boy she’d admired as a youth, returns from the war divorced and interested in her. And soon she finds herself living in the country while trying to prove herself capable of a cowboy wife’s life, without her children and still unmarried.

Julia and Chipper circa 1921.

This book starts by running through a bit of genealogy. We learn of Julia’s mother an grandmother and their marriages. Some details are given, but not much. We do learn that Julia’s grandmother was Hawaiian which, during Julia’s lifetime, was not the desired bloodline for someone looking to be successful. However, Julia’s Caucasian appearance usually allowed her to mix with either cultural group.

The story of Julia is quite impressive. In the early 20th century giving birth outside of marriage painted an unwanted picture, and Julia experienced two such pregnancies. The way her family handled the situation tells readers about their love for her and each other.

At the same time, I really got the feel for the way men treated women. Julia’s independence brought smiles to my face, even as I wished she could find more.

I found the story interesting but realized quickly that the writing suffers from what I call itinerary syndrome. Most of the sentences started the same way and were similar in length. To me, it felt as if I were reading bullet points. Eventually, I found myself noticing this style-choice less. Especially, once Julia and Chipper found themselves working on a ranch. I often found myself wondering if the writing-style was intended to imitate the patterns of speech found on the islands, but having never been there, I couldn’t say for certain.

I also found the dialect features Wright included difficult, yet fun. I liked reading written dialect and hearing what people sounded like. There is a good amount of native Hawaiian in the book, and a glossary is found in the back. Those reading digital copies may struggle flipping back and forth more than those reading print copies. For this reason, I suggest print copies over digital, which I almost never say.

The Queen of Moloka’i reads like a memoir, but Wright informs readers that the storyline has been changed in some places for literary purposes. Though I believe the majority of the story remains factual, It would be nice to know what isn’t.

Overall, I found this book to be a worthwhile read. Those who enjoy creative nonfiction books will probably enjoy it quite a bit.

More Info:

Purchase The Queen of Moloka’i on Amazon.
Follow Kirby Michael Wright: Website Facebook Twitter

I received a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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A Memoir to Remember: Danny Boy

Melinda Turner remembers what growing up with her special needs brother Danny brought to her life in Danny Boy: The Boy Who Raised His Family.

In a world where people would rather take care of themselves instead of others, Danny Boy shows the joy that comes through ultimate service to the ones we love.

When you grow up in a house with typical siblings, imaging what it’s like in a home with a special needs brother leaves out half the angst and nearly all the happiness. Melinda Turner remembers what growing up with her special needs brother Danny brought to her life in Danny Boy: The Boy Who Raised His Family.

My Thoughts on Danny Boy:

Melinda and I have a few things in common. We both grew up in homes with a sibling that needed extra care, we share the same beliefs, and our families both know how to have a lot of fun. Unlike Melinda, my sibling’s needs came from a car accident and the injury has always had a plethora of information and treatments available. I also relate to Melinda’s parents as a mother of a child with a developmental disability, Unlike both Melinda and her mother, I stopped having to clean up someone else’s poop long ago.

Born at a time when doctors could not diagnose him, Danny started life with a feeding tube. Later he became the best escape artist in the history of children and helped his family laugh until they cried.

Melinda covers the ins and outs of despising and absolutely loving a brother with needs that required the help of every member of the family. Something I have no experience with. Her honesty is refreshing, as is her family’s wonderful sense of humor. We might need to become best friends.

Whether I laughed or cried, Danny Boy kept my heart warm. Well-written and worth the read, I recommend Danny Boy, especially if you love biographies or memoirs.

The Official Blurb:

I was not quite eight years old when Danny was born. Even at that young age I can remember the exact moment I knew my life, my family’s lives, everything we had known up to that point had changed forever.

​It was evening in early summer. I walked to my parents’ bedroom at the end of the upstairs hallway wearing a soft summer nightgown and lurked silently, just inside the doorway. Mom and Dad stood side-by-side, arms around each other with their backs to me, looking down on their newborn son as he lay under the bilirubin lights in his crib. I don’t remember any words being spoken—only that I think mom was crying. Or maybe the baby was. What I do remember as the scene was forever stamped on my consciousness was that I knew something was wrong. Maybe not even wrong. Just different. This baby was different. And somehow, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again. And it never has been.”

At times hilarious, at times heart-wrenching; full of wit and wisdom, “Danny Boy” is a must-read for anyone struggling to care for a special needs child.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of Danny Boy: The Boy Who Raised His Family on Amazon.

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