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No Footprints in the Sand - Reviews

No Footprints in the Sand

The sand beach that stretches nearly a mile beyond the Kalaupapa wharf was always laid smooth by the tide. Hansen's disease plays havoc with feet, ulcerating them, crippling them. Such feet walk poorly. And in sand they cannot walk at all. Most patients in Henry's time left no footprints in that golden sand.

When Henry Nalaielua was diagnosed with Hansen’s disease in 1936 and taken from his home and family, he began a journey of exile that led him to Kalaupapa—the remote settlement with the tragic history on the Hawaiian island of Moloka‘i. During its century as a virtual prison, more than 8,000 people were exiled to Kalaupapa, until the introduction of sulfone drugs in the 1940s. Today fewer than 30 patients remain.

This is Henry’s story—an unforgettable memoir of the boy who grew to build a full and joyous life at Kalaupapa, and still calls it home today. No Footprints in the Sand is one of only a few memoirs ever shared with the public by a Kalaupapa patient. Its intimacy and candor make it, in the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin, “a rare and precious human document.” Nalaielua’s story is an inspiring one; despite exile, physical challenges and the severing of family ties, he has faced life—as an artist, musician and historian—with courage, honesty, hope and humor.


Henry’s journey to Europe for Father Damien’s beatification ceremony in 1995


Blog: One Literature Nut—"Review: No Footprints in the Sand by Henry Kalalahilimoku Nalaielua"

Hawaii Book Blog—"Living in Kalaupapa"

Honolulu Star-Bulletin—Storyteller

West Hawaii Today—A life of exile

The Honolulu Advertiser—"Profiling Hawai'i's cultural figures"

No Footprints has also been reviewed in the Louisiana Advocate.

Other Media

The Molokai Dispatch—Footprint on the Heart: Remembering Henry Nalaielua (Henry's obituary)

Hawaii Catholic Herald—"Obituary: Henry Nalaielua, Kalaupapa artist, musician "