BEYOND THE SAND CREEK BRIDGE by Scott Wyatt

BEYOND THE SAND CREEK BRIDGE

KIRKUS REVIEW

An entertaining debut historical novel about Chinese immigrants fighting for love and equality in the old West.

In 1879, Mei-Yin’s father promised her hand in marriage to her first love, Hok-Ling. The price: three years’ wages from working on railroads in the “Gold Mountain”—the American West. By 1882, however, Hok-Ling still has not returned, and Mei Yin’s father gambles Mei-Yin away to a strange man at the mahjong table. Mei-Yin is devastated and runs away to search for Hok-Ling in America herself. Disguised as a man, Mei-Yin stows away on a ship bound for California, and she eventually locates Hok-Ling in Sandpoint, Idaho. But her dreams of a fairy-tale reunion are quickly shattered when Roger Langston, Sandpoint’s sheriff, is found murdered under the local Sand Creek Bridge, and the townspeople accuse Hok-Ling of murder. Mei-Yin believes all hope is lost—until she hears that recent Harvard graduate and attorney-in-training Jason McQuade will represent Hok-Ling in his trial. McQuade believes in equality for all men, and wants to make sure that Hok-Ling will receive a fair trial. However, after he meets and becomes enraptured with Mei-Yin, he finds himself torn between his desire to have her and his desire for justice. Wyatt’s novel offers an unusual look at the era of westward expansion and 19th-century American racism and xenophobia. The stories of the star-crossed lovers and the murder trial are suspenseful and compelling throughout, although, at times, the plot feels somewhat contrived; for example, readers may find it hard to believe that Mei-Yin, a poor woman unable to speak English, would be able to locate Hok-Ling in Idaho without assistance. In the end, however, what the novel lacks in plausibility it makes up with captivating storytelling, well-developed characters and a moving message about equal rights.

An enjoyable, informative historical drama. 

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0988238800
Page count: 442pp
Publisher: Highland House Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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