Molokai Moments: Book Review

By Marie Yamashita

We’ve met him before. Remember the one who wrote about Keli’i, the honorary mayor of Molokai? Well, Donald Sunshine is on our radar again. This time he has written another book, “Molokai Moments,” which is unlike his first one, solemn and serious. His new book is cheery and chatty.

Sunshine’s first book sought to educate about the need to preserve Hawaiian culture and traditions. “Molokai Moments” has no such intention. “Molokai Moments” seeks only to tell readers tales about his life on Molokai, which he does in an entertaining manner. It is a light-hearted book, and fast readers can probably finish it in less than an hour

Sunshine, a part time Molokai resident from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, has put together anecdotes of his experiences on our insular, under-developed island of Molokai. In one instance he got a chuckle out of me when he cited his travails in getting his house built on Molokai, where promises of completion in four months stretched into far beyond and costs went up correspondingly. We locals sympathize and laugh because we’ve been there, too.

Then there was an account of his benevolent attempt to produce a CD of a local musician. Wow! Did that produce umpteen problems, the strictly Molokai kind that he would never encounter in Virginia? Auwe

Among Sunshine’s recollections and anecdotes are the good times at Aloha Fridays at Hotel Molokai, the celebrations at Sunday church services, and the ordeal and conquest of the trail to Kalaupapa by his wife and him.

In “Peoples,” one of the sections of the book, Sunshine makes short and insightful observations about Molokai residents.

Sunshine’s writing shows great affection for Molokai and its people. Here, he says, people are not afraid to smile and hug. He is right on the button there. Shopping, he describes, is a social experience. Pretty accurate there, too. As a host and tour guide to visiting friends, he faces the same problem the locals do when answering the question, “But what do you do here?”

Molokai Moments goes from Sunshine’s initial reluctance in coming to Hawaii, to his time on Molokai, when his wife and he decided to leave the resort area to move to “where the locals belong,” and finally to their return to the hills of Virginia.


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