Dec 04, 10
Read from November 28 to December 04, 2010
Take Me Home
By Brian Leung
Published by Harper
Told in episodes, Take Me Home is the story of Adele “Addie” Maine. Brave and spirited, Addie became something of a hero in the mid 1880’s; though she wouldn’t call herself so. Times were different then, and a person didn’t have much of a choice if they wanted to live to see tomorrow, though she almost didn’t.
Moving to Wyoming at her brothers request, Addie had no idea what she was in for. Arriving on the train, Addie was shocked to find herself in a vast, dusty poverty stricken wasteland called Dire. Where she expected houses or even shacks, ramshackle subterranean dwellings were all that could be hoped for by the mine laborers. And there was something more. There were foreigners. Chinese. ‘Animals’, if you listened to the white’s talk.
At a loss to help her brother or improve their situation, and determined as ever to make a go at this life, Addie decides to go into business for herself selling wild game. She hires Wing Lee, a Chinese cook, to help her prepare the game and sell it to both camps of miners; whites and Chinese. Over time, this arrangement evolves into a friendship, as it becomes clear as day that Wing is a man, just like any other, and there is no difference between people, save the color of their skin.
Addie’s friendship with Wing isn’t her only act of derision in Dire. When a mine collapse leaves her brother trapped, and no one goes in to help; Addie runs into the mine intending a rescue. Deep in the mine, she finds three men, one Chinese, and two white. Her brother is hopelessly trapped but the other two merely injured. Knowing she needed help to free her brother, she pulls the two injured men out, intending to return for her brother with additional aid. Unfortunately, it was never to be. A second mine collapse sealed his fate before there was anything to be done.
Despite having gained the respect of both the white men and Chinese, Addie’s life becomes increasingly complicated. She marries her brothers’ friend out of respect for his wishes and as a means to a living; a marriage in name only. Her husband is a man she does not understand. He is broken inside and does nothing to ease the pain of her brother’s loss. All the while, Wing is her constant companion, lifting her spirits and rousing her heart with his gift of friendship. When a riot erupts and the whites are bent on driving the Chinese out, Addie does what she can to help the Chinese she comes across escape while frantically searching for Wing. She is shot in her pursuit.
Take Me Home, is a frank and stirring account of Mid-West life in the late 1880’s. A reminder that blacks were not the only people group to be victimized and oppressed during the forming of this nation. Leung makes an import statement with this work and while I appreciate the historical accuracies and theme, I was unable to become enveloped in the story. A bit slow in some spots while rushing past others, the book is nevertheless worth the read.