The Short Take:
I didn’t expect to like this book set in a late 1800s Wyoming coal town filled with white and Chinese miners who are beyond wary of each. Wrong! This story of the relationship between an independent woman and a Chinese cook swept me away completely.
I’m not wild about the wild west. And seemingly doomed romances are not my thing either. While I can’t deny those two statements somewhat apply to this novel, they just don’t adequately describe it.
First of all, it’s more a story about survival, trust, and friendship than it is about love. It’s about the ability to see past differences to find commonalities. It’s about maintaining your humanity in an inhumane setting. And this flat, arid Wyoming territory certainly qualified as inhumane. Treeless, waterless, harsh — Leung conveys its soul-crushing emptiness well.
These are the elements that won me over. Of course, I also love a feisty, daring heroine and Miss Addie, the main character, certainly fills that bill. Addie’s wonderings about her own mother’s ability to abandon her husband and children without a word also play an important role in the unfolding of this tale.
Take Me Home was certainly different from what I suspected and surprised me repeatedly. I liked it for all those reasons. And though the resolution was certainly more bitter than sweet, it felt just right.
A Little Plot:
Addie joins her brother Tom on his failing Wyoming homestead. Tom wants to join the coal miners while Addie stays on his land. To bolster their income, Addie decides to hunt game and works out an arrangement with a Chinese cook, Wing Lee, to buy her game for the meals he prepares.
The rest of the plot revolves largely around how their relationship develops, as each fights tremendous feelings of loneliness and isolation. There’s a tragic accident, a heroic rescue, a marriage of convenience, and a riotous climax. Hints of the latter’s outcome are revealed piecemeal throughout the book in segments set some 40 years later.
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