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King of the Armadillos

by Wendy Chin-Tanner

King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner X
King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner
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  • Sandi W. (East Moline, IL)
    Great Debut...
    4.5 stars Thanks to BookBrowse and Flatiron Books for a chance to read this ARC. Publishes July 25, 2023.

    This is a great debut novel by Wendy Chin Tanner. She based the story on her own father when he spent time in Carville, Louisiana. Carville has a federal institution there that quarantined people in the 1950's known to have Leprosy.

    In the story Victor is sent to Carville. He made the long trip from China as a child, to live in the Bronx with his brother and father. As he assimilates to the States he comes down with Leprosy. His father sends him to Carville.

    During his stay at Carville, Victor makes friends with an unforgettable cast of characters. He finds his first love, his first best friend, as all the while he is undergoing treatment for his disease. There is trust, betrayal, loss and tragedy. As he fights to get better and be released, the family he once had is slowly falling apart. His new found promising career is pulling him in one direction and his family in the other.

    A great coming of age story, set in the 1950's, pulling a young Chinese immigrant in a number of ways as he tries to recover from a community shaming disease called Leprosy.
  • Gail G. (Hernando, FL)
    Loved this book!
    This story touches on so many issues. It tells of Victor, a young immigrant Chinese teen who is diagnosed with Hansen's Disease (leprosy) and is sent to a government hospital in Louisiana for treatment. During the 2 years he is there, he matures and learns much about life and relationships.
    The characters are very well defined and the story draws you in immediately. The stigma of leprosy at that time was severe and you can't imagine how a young boy all alone copes with his fears and the typical uncertainties of being a teen.
    This is a book I loved reading and it was hard to put it down. I highly recommend it and will do so to my book club!
  • Jo B. (DeRidder, LA)
    King of the Armadillos
    This book interested me because I went to college about 45 minutes up the River Road from Carville. We would often drive by and admire the beautiful grounds and wonder about the residents. Political commentator, James Carville is from the family that this town is named after. I found the book well written. It is called a novel, but is based on the author's family's experience. We don't know what is fact and what is creativity, but I find it makes for a good story. I will recommend that our book group read this book.
  • Cassandra W. (Alameda, CA)
    5 Stars!
    Beautifully written, Wendy Chin-Tanner is an extraordinary new voice. Inspired by her father's experience at a Leprosarium, a long-forgotten community, her characters add texture and depth to a propulsive story. Written with great sensitivity and care, I highly recommend "King of the Armadillos."
  • Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
    Many themes and subthemes!
    This book captures many perspectives: family, environment, history, music, relationships, and more. Knowing some information about Carville before reading the book, I found the title to be very apropos. Involving Victor in some Carville research caused me to question the role of Wendy Chin-Tanner's father in this history. My favorite elements were the depth of musical understanding Victor developed and the life at Carville. The book was unlike most books I have enjoyed. However, it is high on my list of forever books.
  • Kathryn H. (Rochester, MI)
    King of the Armadillos
    What a wonderful story about such a devastating event! In "King of the Armadillos," 15-year-old Victor Chin has just been diagnosed with Hansen's disease (formerly known as leprosy). He must go to live at the government facility in Carville, LA, for treatment and stay until he is declared cured. Victor learns that some of the patients never leave.

    The author's father was a patient at Carville and Wendy Chin-Tanner has drawn on his experiences in writing this book. Set in the 1950s, the characters seem like real people, and the situations that occur between Victor's fellow teenage patients ring true. This painful disease is the villain in "King of the Armadillos." I rooted for all the patients and admired the dedication of the healthcare staff and the school teachers.

    I highly recommend this book and think it would be popular with book clubs. Older teens might enjoy it as well.
  • Kathrin C. (Corona, CA)
    King of the Armadillos
    The pleasure of discovering books like this make me very glad I became a reader early on and remain one to this day. Wendy Chin-Tanner takes you back to the 1950s and invites you into the heart, mind and life of Victor Chin, a 15-year-old Chinese immigrant from the Bronx just diagnosed with Hansen's disease, as he boards a train destined to Carville National Leprosarium in Louisiana. So many tangled issues rise to the surface in subsequent chapters: family separation, sibling fissures, longing for his mother still back in China and the determination that she never learn what has happened to him, fear of the disease, not knowing if a cure will be inevitable, confinement, teen hormones, jealousy, new friendships, first love and the emergence of his musical talent. This may sound just like your coming-of-age novel, but it goes far beyond.

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