If I could find only one word to use for its description it would be beautiful. Yet, even that hardly seems to do it justice. This book encompassed many things that I love in literature; historical points, love, redemption, and peace. I cried at the end and my daughter (who was reading Harry Potter 6 next to me) looked at me in surprise.
"Mommy, what's the matter!?"
I rubbed my eyes and smiled through my tears. "Nothing Baby, it's just. So. Good."
She clearly didn't understand so after I finished the last page I tried to explain, "She finds peace."
It will be years before my darling 9 year old will be able to truly comprehend the power of Take Me Home, but it wasn't for her that I cried. It was for that part of me that felt healed by reading it. That part of me that gloried in having the opportunity to share in such a marvelous love story. A real love story, not just a story about passions released but about friendship, trust, companionship and consequence.
Yet none of these qualities can come easily when set against the backdrop of the Wyoming Territory in 1885.
"Even in the late nineteenth-century American West, a notably violent region, the violence directed against Chinese immigrants was shocking. The Union Pacific railroad employed 331 Chinese and 150 whites in their coal mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming. On September 2, 1885, Chinese and white miners, who were paid by the ton, had a dispute over who had the right to work in a particularly desirable area of the mine. White miners, members of the Knights of Labor, beat two Chinese miners and walked off their jobs. That evening the white miners, armed with rifles, rioted and burned down the Chinese quarter. No whites were prosecuted for the murder of twenty-eight Chinese..."Take Me Home is the tragic, touching story of a young woman struggling to make her way in a world of racism and homesteading, culminating in the events of Sept. 2, 1885.
It's so infrequent to find a book of this quality anymore. One that shows love without being explicit and the harshest realities of life without being coarse.
It's even more difficult to find a song to match such quality. BUT! It may come as no surprise that I have found one and although it may seem cliche-ish, given the content of the story, it seemed to resound within my mind even as I turned that final page.
"But if there ain't a heaven or hell, it's still a nice idea to imagine a place where we all meet up after it's all over. Where we get to see everyone we loved and fought with and don't none of it matter anymore because we're not scratching an' clawing and elbowing each other for a scrap to eat. . . . The way I imagine it, when your time comes and you go to that place, and there's everyone you ever knew, and everyone they ever knew, and they're all there to welcome you and pat you on the back, and right behind you is someone else because there's people leaving this life every minute. . . . I like to think that maybe it works something like this. There'll come a time when the very last of us brings up the rear, and there ain't no more to follow. And I guess that's when we all head off together at the same time to wherever we're supposed to go." -Take Me Home
The song is called 'The Eternal Vow' by Yo-Yo Ma and Tan Dun and has no words (see video at the bottom). Originally from the soundtrack of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Eternal Vow seems to hold the longing of love and the sorrow of loss as it mixes an oriental savor with the slight twang of what could be the wind-swept landscape of the high-desert of the Western United States.
I really hope you take the time to read this book because I don't think my review can nearly do it justice.
Books: Take Me Home by Brian Leung
Song: The Eternal Vow by Yo Yo Ma and Tan Dun