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Read advance reader review of King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner, page 4 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

    Paperback:
    Sep 17, 2024, 336 pages

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Page 4 of 5
There are currently 33 member reviews
for King of the Armadillos
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  • Windell H. (Rock Hill, SC)
    The King of the Armadillos
    This is a story of love, hate, family, and relationships and how kindness can shape one's life. Having immigrated from China to New York and then being placed in a leprosarium in Louisiana made this story of coming of age very difficult for Victor (main character). Victor finds that friendship is where you make it. "Becoming a part of" gives one a sense of security in an angry world. Great historical fiction of America's recent past. I recommend this book to readers who root for the underdog.
  • Sue Malone
    King of the Armadillos
    When I saw an opportunity to review this book I was attracted to it as I had previously read "The Second Life of Mireille West" by Amanda Skenandore, which describes life at the Carville facility during the 1920s. During this period Hansen's Disease was considered a contagious disease and contact with patients was greatly feared. This book reveals that with the intervening years between the 1920s and the 1950s, medicine had been developed to treat this disease and while patients still carried the stigma which resulted in incarceration at the only facility in the U.S., i.e., Carville; there were patients who eventually got released.

    It appears that the stringent rules in the 20's were somewhat mitigated as the years and medicine advanced. In the 50s is appeared that particularly for the younger ones, they didn't get penalized for sneaking outside the confines of the fencing to go down to the Mississippi River on some evenings.

    I enjoyed the book very much and I understand that the author was retelling her father's story she did not wish to alter the true ending of this story. But I disliked Victor's brother Henry and the fact that he was so controlling over Victor that he acquiesced to change the direction of his own future. At least I wanted to know whether Victor continued his musical studies in NYC, whether he ever reached out to Ruth and her child, or just pretended that Ruth and Ba never existed.
  • Judy G. (Carmel, IN)
    Hansen Highlights
    I enjoyed this book for the author's excellent depiction of the central character and his family.The words came alive to create a clear family image with all the beauty, longing, secrets and wounds. This book would make a great Book Club selection because of the large number of themes & topics to explore in discussion. There is a great opportunity for the facilitator to present additional information about Hansen's Disease historical information as well as current day treatment.Themes include family relationships, secrets/ sacrifice, medical ethics, societal discrimination and group dynamics among numerous others! I longed for more information when I reached the end of this book.
  • Margot P. (Mandeville, LA)
    Close to home historical fiction
    I grew up not far from Carville and often heard stories and rumors about the "leper colony." Reading King of the Armadillos was shocking for me as I had no idea what life was truly like inside the Hansen's facility and figured it was just a locked down hospital. The description of the treatments and the effects of the disease were eye-opening to say the least!
    The novel is both the immigration story of Victor's family and his own coming of age story as a musical prodigy with a terribly misunderstood disease. The novel succeeds on both levels. It's tough to write a "crossover" novel (YA to Adult). I do think if you can't write naturally flowing sex scenes, it's best to leave it to the reader's imagination, and in this case that is particularly true. Maybe better editing?
    I do suspect a sequel might be in the making as Victor's life is just beginning and his family is in chaos.
  • B. B.
    Fascinating Coming-of-Age Historical Fiction
    I enjoyed reading this well-told story of Victor Chin and his time at the Carville leprosarium in Louisiana in the 1950's. This really is a story of belonging and surviving and finding your way. I like reading a book where I learn new things. I also found it very interesting that the story is based on the author's own father's experiences at the leprosarium.
  • Kari J. (Green Valley, AZ)
    Belonging
    I found the major theme of this book to be about a sense of belonging. The first one we encounter is that of family of course as we are introduced to the Chins. Born in China, Victor's beginnings are with his mother when at a tender age is taken from her by his father to America and told life will be better. He is scared and confused - he is too young - where does he belong?
    Then, his father brings home a new lady friend. She is not his mother and she does not belong, yet she treats him kindly and says she loves him. Again, he is confused and feels pulled in two directions - where do his loyalties lie?
    When Victor gets sick he feels abandoned by his father because his father should be a strong, loving, and caring man - making Victor feel a tender sense of belonging that says, 'son, I love you, and I will take care of you, and protect you.' Victor does not get this from his father, and his father's girlfriend ends up making the decision to get Victor the help he needs.
    When Victor gets to Carville there are a few other instances where the theme of belonging can be seen. First of all, as a patient. Does Victor need this surgery? Does he really have Hansen's disease? Is this going to help? Is there really any hope for him here? Victor comes to realize that there is segregation even in Carville when he is put in the Chinese building, but this, in a way, is at least a knowing sense a belong. In the 1950's, segregation of this type is seen as normal. Yet another instance of an example of the theme of belonging is the set of friends Victor falls into and the ways in which their relationships ebb and flow throughout the book.
    By the end, Victor is still a young man, and I am still rooting for him. He has a lot going for him and I hope his next chapter is a successful one - it'd make another great book!
    Thank you very much for my advanced copy - I enjoyed reading it.
  • Jane H. (Prospect, KY)
    King of the Armadillos
    Several years ago, I read IN THE SANCTUARY OF OUTCASTS by Neil White. It was a memoir about the leper colony at Carville, so I was quite interested to read KING OF THE ARMADILLOS.

    I think it put an interesting human touch to what I'd already read. I learned even more interesting facts about the disease of leprosy as well as the treatment center at Carville.
    Deciding the central character would be Chinese to mirror the experience the author's father had at Carville was a great way to make the story also one of the Asian immigrant's story, and the many injustices they experienced after their arrival in our country. Definitely worth a read, especially if you have not explored this part of history in our country

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