Journey To The Heartland

Fiction - LGBTQ
282 Pages
Reviewed on 09/23/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Journey To The Heartland is a work of fiction in the slice of life and LGBTQ+ subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Xiaolong Huang. Based on real events, the novel takes us on the varied journey of young Hanwei, who finds himself born into the difficult situation of being the son of a gay man in China in the 1980s. As Hanwei experiences the traumatic way he and his father are treated, he begins his own journey toward self-discovery. In later years, his journey takes him to the United States, but the life of a gay immigrant holds its own difficulties, even in California where life is advertised as all sunshine and freedom.

As someone who adores queer fiction and cross-cultural tales, I found this novel had an ideal blend of real-world issues and fictional touches to make it highly engaging and accessible for all readers. It’s clear that author Xiaolong Huang takes true events to heart, and the dialogue and intense narrative quality of the work is a testament to how deeply and emotionally connected the author is to the tale he’s telling. Hanwei is a beautifully drawn character with realistic motivations and his highs and lows speak volumes to the experience of culturally displaced LGBTQ+ people everywhere, but there were also some really fantastic and uplifting moments of joy that drive the drama forward with hope for greater social change in the future. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Journey To The Heartland as an excellent and inspiring read.

Rabia Tanveer

Journey To the Heartland by Xiaolong Huang is based on the true story of a man who learned that sometimes loving is not enough. This is Hanwei’s coming-of-age story and how he evolved to become his own person. Growing up in a small Chinese factory town in the 80s was tough, but things were unbearable at home for Hanwei. An abusive father with a narrow mindset was the bane of his existence, and Hanwei couldn’t even imagine coming out to his family. So, when he got the opportunity, he moved to the USA, hoping he could love freely. But the life of a gay Chinese man in California was harder than Hanwei expected. Facing adversity and challenges every step of the way, a lesser man would have broken down. Hanwei, however, wasn’t afraid of challenges, and he faced everything head-on. While he had no control over his past, Hanwei knew he could change his future. All he had to do was be brave for just a little longer.

Inspirational and entertaining, author Xiaolong Huang created a perfect story of resilience, love, and acceptance. We do get a message of accepting diverse cultures and sexuality, but I believe Journey To the Heartland was about a lot more than just that. Hanwei wanted to be free to make his own choices and live with the consequences. He wanted to explore, understand, and make mistakes. While sexuality is one of the main themes of the story, the author made sure readers learn more about Hanwei than just his sexuality. We witness Hanwei as he overcame alienation, pursued his academic dreams, and grew as a person. He wasn’t perfect, and the narrative didn’t paint him as such. He was as human as you and I. I could sympathize with him, cheer for him and find bits and pieces of myself in him. Regardless to say, I loved it!

Essien Asian

Growing up in a home in turmoil, Hanwei witnesses the effects of his father's abusive behavior toward him and his mother and the confusion that grows in his mind over his father's uncharacteristically odd behavior with the men that frequently visit their home. He strives to get better grades at school as this is the only way he can adequately provide for his mother but there are a series of nagging questions gnawing at the back of his mind. Is his growing attraction to his father's unusual lifestyle a sign of things to come? Will he risk following his heart and ostracizing himself from conventional society? Only time will tell in Xiaolong Huang's Journey To The Heartland.

Journey To The Heartland explores the lifestyle and issues that gay men go through in a world where the LGBTQ lifestyle is still struggling to gain acceptance. The storyline focuses on the primary character who lives in rural China and dreams of making it to the capital to succeed in life while trying to come to terms with his sexual orientation. The character development is thorough with Xiaolong Huang going so far as to identify the origins of Hanwei's interest in the alternate lifestyle his father displays. The depiction of discrimination against gay individuals is fairly accurate and the use of popular events in history as markers serves as a timeline for the events in the book. Journey To The Heartland is an impressive, insightful story capable of enlightening readers about what members of the LGBTQ society endure.