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Read advance reader review of King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner, page 3 of 5

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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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  • First Published:
    Jul 2023, 336 pages

    Sep 17, 2024, 336 pages


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  • Ruth H (Florida)
    King of the Armadillos
    What a fascinating novel about a young man and his struggles with Leprosy, unrequited love, an absent Father and a bigoted brother!!! I loved Victor for all he did to be able to return to normal society. This story has many twists and turns! Well written and great descriptions of the lives of all the characters. I found the Chinese culture very interesting especially from Herb's and Henry's perspective. Set in the 1950's gives us a glimpse of New York City, Louisiana and China after the Japanese invaded China. Wendy Chin-Tanner this is an excellent story, thank you for writing it! Also thanks BookBrowse for this First Impression book.
  • Mary A. (Lake Nebagamon, WI)
    What a Wonderful Story
    This is a story of Victor Chin, who as a child in the 1950's, has formed some lesions. The diagnosis turns out to be Hansen's disease, which is known as leprosy.

    To receive his treatment he must go to a federal institution known to treat only Hansen's disease. He must leave his family in New York and leave for Louisiana.

    This is a story of immigration, racism, fear of disease and the meaning of family.
    You could feel all of Victors feelings and as you read, you want to know the choices he will make as he lives in the treatment center. This is a story of friendship, hope and love. At times, I would reread a sentence, several times, because the author has a beautiful way of putting words together.
  • Laura C. (Woodworth, LA)
    King of the Armadillos
    Victor Chin is a child when his father takes him and his older brother from China to live in the Bronx in the fifties in search of a better life. But the discrimination Victor suffers because of his nationality pales in comparison to the ostracism and stigma he and his father fear when Victor is diagnosed with the little understood Hansen's disease. When Victor is sent as a teenager to the Carville National Leprosarium in Louisiana for treatment, he discovers that Hansen's is no longer a secret to be kept since everyone there has or had the disease. The author goes into great detail about the treatments available at the time and the suffering and setbacks endured by the patients, some of whom are cured, some not.

    Although fiction, this coming-of-age novel sheds light on the reality of dealing with a rare, debilitating and feared disease. It is dedicated to the author's father, who was a patient at Carville, where there is today a museum of artifacts on the grounds of the now closed leprosarium near New Orleans. I highly recommend this very well-written story to book clubs as well as YA readers. A worthy nonfiction companion read is the memoir, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (2010).
  • Beth B. (New Wilmington, PA)
    How to Journey Through the Unknown
    A masterpiece! Read this novel for its marvelous story as you soak in the beauty of the author's poetic descriptions. The characters are unforgettable -- we learn of their backgrounds and secrets bite by bite. Some embody guilt, shame, fear, discrimination, icy self-control, wisdom, compassion, generosity. The main character, Victor, learns that one can never go back to the way things once were. Although uprooted from his home at fifteen, he is blessed to have Mrs. Thorne, Herb Klein, and Ruth. He finds himself in music and through interaction with his peers, he discovers that he has self-worth. His introspection leads him to the conclusion that secrets are harmful and a positive attitude is crucial in sickness or in health.

    I am grateful to Wendy Cin-Tanner for her skill and her thoughtful introduction to a difficult subject. Victor was indeed victorious.
  • BeckyH
    Hanson's dIsease and teenagers
    I had a hard time putting this book down. I needed to find out what happened to Victor, his family and his friends in the 1950’s. Chin-Tanner made them real people and I was invested in them from the first pages of this coming-of-age novel. Victor, a 15-year-old Chinese immigrant boy living with his father, brother and his father’s live-in girlfriend in New York City, discovers he has Hanson’s Disease (leprosy, a slur) and must be confined to the National Hospital in Carville, Louisiana until he is cured. At Carville, for the first time, Victor is able to make his own friends and decisions and discovers he has talents and capabilities he was unable to foster in the confines of his brother’s shadow.
    As an educator I was able to visit Carville in the late 1960’s. Chin-Tanner got the atmosphere, fear and hope of the place exactly right. She wrote expressively of being a teenager in a state of anxiety and dread with great empathy and reality. The alternate plot of the family left behind in New York was equally fascinating. The oppressive climate of hot, humid Louisiana in the summer was clear.
    Altogether this is a great book well worth your time. You will learn a lot about Hanson’s Disease and Carville, teenagers and their path to adulthood. KING OF THE ARMADILLOS is full of love, despair, hope, friendship, betrayal, passion, talent, family, and much more. Book groups will find a plethora of topics to discuss.
  • Carol R. (North Mankato, MN)
    From China to Carville
    Wendy Chin-Tanner takes us on a historical journey set in the 1950s. The main character, 15-yr-old Victor, a Chinese immigrant living in the Bronx with his father and brother, contracts Hanson's Disease (leprosy). This disease carried so much shame and stigma and ultimately Victor is sent to Carville, a leprosy treatment facility in Louisiana. In the two years Victor spent in treatment at Carville, he makes friends, feels discrimination not only because of the disease, but also because of his ethnicity, and finds a new family as he undergoes treatment. He finds his talent and passion in music with support from caring adults. He feels confusion as he examines and interacts with his messy and unusual biological family from a distance through letters and phone calls.

    There are so many layers in this book and much to discuss. Discussion topics could include the historical aspect of a dreaded, shameful disease, discrimination, cultural characteristics, family - both biological and and found, the angst of adolescence, and emerging stronger than you were. This would make a great book club read!
  • Cindy B. (Waukee, IA)
    King of the Armadillos
    In 1954 Chinese-American teenager Victor Chin is diagnosed with leprosy (Hansen's disease). Victor lives with his father and brother in New York City where his father owns a laundry. His mother remains in China caring for elderly relatives. It is decided that Victor will go to a federal institute in Carville, Louisiana for treatment of his disease due to the stigma, fears, and costs of leprosy treatment.
    During his stay in Carville, Victor finds friends, a first love, and discovers his talent as pianist as well as receiving treatment for his illness.
    The reader learns about the Carville Institute and treatment of Hansen's disease as well as insights into immigration, family dynamics and teenage angst. Well developed characters and a subject I was not familiar with made the book an enjoyable and interesting read.

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