Belonging to Heaven by Gale Sears Blog Tour
Descended from the Hawaiian royal line, Jonathan Napela became one of the first—and most influential—converts to the Church in Hawaii. A man of intelligence, social status, and wealth, he used his considerable position to further the gospel in his native land. He developed a lifelong bond of brotherhood with Elder George Q. Cannon, helping to translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian and establish a gathering place for the Hawaiian saints in Laie, Oahu. But when his beloved wife, Kitty, was stricken with leprosy, Jonathan made the defining decision of his life. He would leave his life of privilege to become her caretaker and spend the rest of his life on Molokai, the island of lepers. To those who suffered similar heartbreak and banishment, Jonathan’s self-sacrifice became their lifeline. Based on true story, this is an extraordinary novel of a man who chose love in the face of death.
Review by Book Readers
The novel Belonging to Heaven, a historical novel, is based on a true story. Gale Sears tells of the lives, faith, love and friendships of people of Hawaii and the LDS Mormon faith. The story starts with an LDS Elder, George Q. Cannon working in the gold mines of California. The funds from the gold mining finance the Mormon mission to the Sandwich Islands, the name for Hawaii at that period in history. As the story progresses the reader is drawn into the lives and history of the Hawaiian people, their traditions and culture. Jonathan Napela, a descendant of the Hawaiian royal line is intrigued by Elder Cannon and his faith. The two become firm friends; George Cannon learns the Hawaiian language to be able to share his religion with the people of Hawaii. The story continues through the life and experiences of Jonathan Napela in his mission to spread the Mormon faith. Jonathan’s life takes a tragic turn when his wife contracts Leprosy. He moves to the Island of Lepers, Molokai, to take care of his wife and help others in the appalling conditions in the colony.
Belonging to Heaven piqued my interest, having visited Hawaii several times and hold a particular love of the country. At the start of the book the religious part left me unsure as to whether I would continue to the end. But I continued on, each page drawing me further and further into the story to the end. When the story moved on to Molokai and the Leper Colony, I was both fascinated and sad at the awful conditions existing during that period in history. Molokai being one of my favorite Islands to visit, my connection to the people became deeper. Although aware of the existence of the Leper Colony, I had no real knowledge of the conditions. My husband and I went back to Molokai on our fourth wedding anniversary. We found a small chapel, knocked on the Priests door and asked if he would renew our vows. The memories I have of Hawaii will stay with me forever. Reading Gales book has made those memories and my love of Hawaii and the people more real. I now have a greater respect for the people and their culture.
Readers, who are not familiar with LDS and the Hawaiian history, may enjoy Gale Sear’s ability to weave historical events into an interesting and emotional story. Those who are cognizant of the Mormon faith and Hawaiian history may find this book educational and inspirational. Gale has effectively incorporated real life events into her fictional story and keeps the reader engaged and drawn into the lives of the characters.
Jonathan chuckled as he helped Catherine and then his father into the carriage. He leaned over and whispered to him.
“When we are out of sight of the village we will take off our suit coats.” He climbed up, took the lines in his hands, and commanded
the horses to walk on. As he waved to the villagers, Jonathan smiled. It was a smile that felt its way through his entire body. Today was a good day.