:: author: Jan Philipp Sendker :: published: 2012 :: my rating: 4/5 :: genre: novel :: goodreads
Hello my lovely friends! This book was a part of my June TBR list and I have already started reading the second book in this two book series.
Synopsis from goodreads:
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.
Suspenseful, chilling and captivating. This novel will have you turning it’s pages in order to learn more about the tale that brings two unassuming characters together. The love and commitment that each character shows is refreshing and will leave you breathless. Originally written in German, it is not hard to see why this book was such a hit. The protagonist of the story, Julia, wishes to unearth her father’s past after his sudden disappearance the day after her graduation. Spurred by her mother’s indifference, and her father’s mysterious personality, Julia travels to Burma in hopes to gain insight into the past her father had strictly hidden. Join Julia as she unravels a love story so innocent, pure and strong that it withstands the test of time.
Sendker does a phenomenal job in his debut novel by bringing to life characters and a plot that will have you breathless. Instead of enticing the reader with a dark, secret past that Julia’s father may have harbored, Sendker presents an innocent, pure, strong love story. Shrouded by superstitions and a strong sense of filial duty follow a blind young monk and a poor crippled girl in pre-WWII Burma find a love and trust that cannot be broken. This story is heavily influenced by fairy-tale romanticism and opens a door to the Burmese cultures and values. I found the book hard to put down, and although there were large gaping plot holes (like why did Tin Win never return to his first love?), this fairytale is a love story that most dream of. The book kept me fully engaged with it’s simple, yet beautiful writing, and there was a lot of wisdom to be garnered from the simple Burmese traditions.
“He expected nothing more from life. Not because he was disappointed or embittered. He expected nothing because there was nothing of importance that he had not already experienced. He possessed all the happiness that a person could find. He loved and was loved. Unconditionally.”
The greatest theme in this book is love. The love that Tin Win holds for Mi Mi is intense, pure, overwhelming and genuine. She is who liberates him from isolation and teaches him the delicacies of life and joy. This quote captures the extent of his love towards her and I believe is a description of the love many want to receive.
“Eyes and ears are not the problem… It is rage that blinds and deafens us. Or fear. Envy, mistrust. The world contracts, gets all out of joint when you are angry or afraid.”
After Tin Win becomes blind, he is taken to a monastery where he meets his greatest mentor U May. It is here that Tin Win learns that blindness is not an impairment, in fact, the removal of the superficial aspects of life can even be seen as a blessing. Tin Win is taught the detriments of fear, envy and mistrust, and the blindness that those emotions cause. This is a universal truth that must be acknowledged, and this quote is just an example of the nuggets of wisdom Sendker offers his readers.
An easy read, this book is for anyone who wants a fairytale-esque love story that is rooted in traditional values of commitment, loyalty and purity.