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Take Me Home: A Novel Hardcover – October 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“Leung uses the discord between whites and Asians in the West of the 1880s to give his novel both depth and a compelling twist.” (Denver Post)

“A sweeping, action-packed novel.” (Louisville Courier Journal)

Take Me Home is a riveting novel of two heroic people attempting to transcend the prejudices of their time and place. Through Leung’s skillful artistry and empathy, we see the worst aspects of humanity, but we also see the best.” (Ron Rash, author of Burning Bright and Serena)

“Heartfelt. . . . Leung’s writing is so clear and lovely and his characters are so well-realized . . . The character of Wing speaks eloquently for thousands of Chinese miners whose voices are lost to history.” (Dallas Morning News)

“Every now and then, a small, quiet, well-crafted novel is just what the doctor ordered. . . . Take Me Home by Brian Leung fits the bill.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“This beautiful novel is about forbidden friendships, secrets kept, and one woman’s quest to stay alive.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

“The story is set in 1880s Wyoming, and Leung has re-created the warp and woof of the territory with faithful clarity. . . . An indelible picture of the Wyoming Territory and two unlikely lovers.” (Shelf Awareness)

“[Leung] spins a fascinating tale of tough women confronting loneliness, prejudice, and forbidden love.” (The Advocate)

“Brian Leung’s exquisitely crafted novel Take Me Home is a story of the Old West for investigative readers, a necessary and cautionary tale spun from the lessons of real history. . . . [His] lyric gifts as a novelist bring the deftly plotted story alive.” (Louisville Magazine)

“Leung wisely narrows his plot into a tightly woven and unusual love story. . . . [His] writing, in fact, has a train-like rhythm that will keep any reader turning the page to see what the journey home looks like.” (Kentucky Monthly)

“Brian Leung captures the haunting landscape, harsh conditions, and abundant racism of late 19th century Wyoming, and he also leaves the reader with the hope that, while amends can never be made for past cruelties, the future may be somewhat brighter.” (Historical Novels Review)

“The coal mine culture of Wyoming comes alive in this story of forbidden friendship.” (Lambda Literary)

“A powerful story about friendship, love, and eventual triumph, set against the dramatic backdrop of 1880s Wyoming. It is thought-provoking, crisply written, and compulsively readable.” (The Tucson Citizen)

“An engaging and beguiling novel about prejudice, relationships and the possibilities of redemption.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“[A] lyrical sophomore novel . . . . Evocative . . . . Leung’s subtle, perceptive saga closes on notes both touching and patriotic.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A fascinating depiction of life, love, and racial strife in the mining camps of the 19th-century American West. . . . In this work of insight and sensitivity, Leung succinctly portrays how Chinese miners of the era were resented and what happened to people who crossed the racial barrier.” (Library Journal)

Take Me Home is beautiful. The language of Brian Leung’s novel is poetic and surprising and yet still manages to capture the coarseness, the beardedness of Rock Springs, Wyoming. It’s a smart book that offers an important window into the West and therefore the American story.” (Percival Everett, author of Wounded and I Am Not Sidney Poitier)

Take Me Home is very much about humanity--very much about our need to love, no matter how forbidden. Lovers of history and heroines will want to devour this book.” (Nami Mun, author of Miles from Nowhere)

“Brian Leung’s Take Me Home is powerfully imagined. . . . [His] pristine prose recounts a time of tough women dealing with the loneliness of the Wyoming plains and the unforgiving landscape of an 1880s coal-mining town, a time when we were all immigrants in search of a place we could call home.” (Helena María Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came With Them and Under The Feet of Jesus)

From the Back Cover

Adele "Addie" Maine is returning to Dire, Wyoming, forty years after the deadly events that drove her away from her husband without a word.

Years earlier, when Addie first heads West to stay with her brother Tommy, she is wary of the Chinese working alongside the white men in the local coal mines. But when Tommy falters at homesteading and the mine becomes their only path, Addie's eyes are opened through her association with one Chinese man in particular, Wing Lee—and a bond forms between them that is impossible and forbidden, even in a territory where nearly everyone is an immigrant. Together, Addie and Wing harbor a secret, and when racial tensions escalate to a combustion point, Addie will face a devastating choice between fighting for what is right . . . and survival.

Take Me Home is a searing, redemptive novel that explores justice in a time of violence, and the sweeping landscape between friendship and love.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006176907X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061769078
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,325,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Leung was born and raised in San Diego County, a somewhat unlikely location given that his mother was born in Battleground, Washington and his father escaped from China in 1949. For many years Brian lived in Los Angeles, where he studied the city's kinetic diversity and found his literary voice. Today he resides in a Shotgun house built in 1898 in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to being an Associate Professor at the University of Louisville, and a novelist, he is an avid collector of original animation art and also, the work of the famed graphic artist, Charles Harper.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cheryl1213 on November 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This novel falls into the realm of books that I wanted to like more than I did. I very well might have picked it up on my own and I wouldn't have regretted it but I also would be unlikely to return to it or pass it on. I'd give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

The novel follows Addie Maine in both her first stay in the Wyoming Territory (1880s) and her return as an older woman (1920s). The focus is on the earlier period, when she joined her brother who had been attracted to the territory by the promise of a homestead. Having found the land rough, he ends up working in a coal mine shortly after Addie arrives. The area is populated by both Caucasians and Chinese, the latter brought in by the rail and mine groups to provide cheap labor. The lack of money leads to strong racial tensions, tensions to which a growing friendship between Addie and a Chinese man run counter. I won't say too much more to avoid venturing into spoiler territory, although it becomes clear early on that Addie is wounded in a local riot (one that has a historical parallel).

I like stories about strong women and Addie is certainly one. I am also interested in the history of racial tension, especially stories that sometimes go untold...I knew of tension with those of European descent and the Chinese (it's easier to have tension w/ groups that appear different on sight) but not of the particular story that provides the historical backdrop for the tale. I just never felt fully pulled in, never fell into the story and the characters (I've said before, characters make a book for me more than plot). I wanted to know a lot more about Addie's lone female friend in the territory but that was pretty much a side story. Leung (who I think is only on his 2nd novel) has talent for identifying an interesting context and tale. His prose flows well and has character. But I just didn't find myself surrendering to the tale enough to give it a higher rating. Good, but not great.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Misfit VINE VOICE on December 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Adele (Addie) Main's story is told in alternating time lines, the first being the *present* in 1927 when she returns to the home she left behind in Dire, Wyoming and coming to grips with the tragic events that brought her to leave. The second timeline is Addie's story as she comes to join her brother in Dire, her marriage to Muuk and friendship with Wing-Lee. Dire is a coal mining town in the back of beyond and Chinese are not exactly popular and eventually the tensions heat up to the point of no return - will Addie and Wing-Lee survive?

Yep, there's a lot more than that but I see other reviewers have been ahead of me and done a nice job recapping so I'll pass on one more rehash. While not a bad book by any means, there really wasn't a whole lot in Addie's story to keep me reading on into the wee hours of the morning, nor I pick up on any really chemistry between Addie and Wing-Lee. That said, I think my biggest issue was the constant POV switches - and I'm not talking about the timeline switches either. What threw me off was starting a chapter in one place (Dire) and then we're hurtling back to Addie's early days learning about her parents and childhood. Other chapters would start and then flip back to something that happened a few days ago and/or minutes ago. I found it quite distracting and half the time I never knew where I was at the beginning of the next chapter, except for when Addie was riding in a motor vehicle. Then I knew it was 1927. The copy I read was an ARC so perhaps this was corrected in the final version, but a note at the chapter header of date and/or "Addie" or "Wing-Lee" would have been very helpful to cut the distractions to a minimum.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In 1927, Buckley Orner was the unfortunate chosen one to escort elderly heroine Adele "Addie" Maine home from Los Angeles to Dire, Wyoming as the guest of honor at a gala hosted by Chinese Ah Cheong before he returns to his home country. He insists she saved lives during the Rock Spring riot four decades ago. She only agreed to come back for her brother Tommy, her friend Wing Lee and to give something to Ah Cheong that she kept with her in the orange groves to take with him to bury in China. Addie hoped not to see her spouse the ex miner Muuk, but knows that is impossible to avoid.

Instead of believing she was a hero, Addie believes she caused the riot. She arrived by train as a teen to stay with her sibling, but his farm failed so both took work at the mines. There she met Chinese forced to work at backbreaking labor for "coolie" wages and learned they were not half demons as the schools taught. Her close tie to Wing Lee was the final match to an already volatile situation. Now, ironically instead of the person who ran from rather than confront her spouse, she returns to Wyoming a hero.

This is a terrific historical saga that focuses on intolerance as seen through the eyes of a reluctant heroine looking back to the pivotal moment in her life. With an ingenious twist that anchors the two periods and a strong cast in both eras, fans will relish this engaging tale; as Addie, whose story keeps the two subplots moving, learns you can never really come home.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charles W. Long VINE VOICE on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I started this book with the idea that the plot was implausible. But, by the time I got halfway through, it didn't make any difference. I was caught up in the story of Addie, Tom, Muuk and Wing Lee. I could picture the desolation of a mining camp and the endless flat country around it. Addie has arrived to be with her brother, Tom, who has a homestead, such as it is. He takes work in the mines while Addie lives on the homestead, not much more than an overturned wagon. She concocts an idea of how to make money and approaches Wing, who is the cook for the Chinese miners. She brings in game and they sell it to the men. She and Wing develop a close relationship and eventually it leads to their downfall. I am always attracted to stories about the pioneer days in the west and this book added to my list of favorites. Keep an open mind and allow the words to entice you into reading a fine book.
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