An engaging and beguiling novel about prejudice, relationships and the possibilities of redemption.

TAKE ME HOME

The “home” of the title is the minuscule (and aptly named) settlement of Dire, Wyo., where Addie Maine revisits a locus of love and loss 40 years after the tragic events that had transpired there.

In the 1880s, Addie travels from Kentucky to Wyoming at the behest of her brother, Tommy, who had settled in those unpromising surroundings and was trying to make his way as a homesteader/coal miner. Addie finds herself helping out in any way she can, primarily by shooting rabbits and entering into a business relationship with Wing Lee, a Chinese immigrant who’d moved from San Francisco to Wyoming along with a number of his fellow countrymen. While Wing is a cook, most of his peers are coal miners, and their willingness to work for extremely low wages causes resentment among the white population. At this time prejudice against the Chinese is rife, for they’re seen as bestial and subhuman. When Tommy is killed in a mine collapse, she marries the laconic, depressed and depressing Finn Atso Muukkonen, who is both unable and unwilling to consummate their relationship. Addie finds herself more and more attracted to Wing, and despite cultural prejudices it’s clear that he’s attracted to her as well. One day they give in to their sexual impulses, and Addie finds herself carrying Wing’s child. Eventually, tension between the white and Asian cultures gets so extreme that anti-Chinese riots break out, and a number of Chinese are killed, including Wing, but in a final gesture of generosity he makes Addie’s escape from Dire possible and allows her to go to California to start a new life. Leung (Lost Men, 2007, etc.) tells most of his story through flashbacks, as Addie travels back to Dire in the 1920s, largely to confirm whether it was her own husband who had shot her during the riots 40 years earlier.

An engaging and beguiling novel about prejudice, relationships and the possibilities of redemption.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-176907-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more