The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Art of hearing HeartbeatsJulia arrived in Burma determined to find her missing father. Four years ago, on the morning after her graduation from law school, Julia had been awakened by her father. He told her that he was going to Boston for a few days and then kissed her on her forehead and said, “I love you little one. Never forget that, you hear?” He had not been seen or heard from since. There had been an investigation, and dramatic headlines in the newspaper proclaiming “Influential Wall Street Lawyer Disappears Without a Trace,” but soon that all subsided and Julia still didn’t know what had happened to her father.

She and her mother had slowly resigned themselves to the not knowing and had moved on with their lives, but recently, Julia had gotten a package from her mother containing some long forgotten things from her father that had been stored in the attic. Tucked away in the back of a notebook was a letter addressed to a person named Mi Mi  in Kalaw, Burma. Written in 1955 soon after he had arrived in the US, it was a love letter to someone he had left behind. Impulsively Julia had made an airline reservation, determined to find out who this woman was and if she could find any trace of her father in his homeland of Burma.

Now, tired and disoriented from her long trip Julia is looking for her hotel in Kalaw when an elderly man stops her, addressing her by her name in the street.  His name is U Ba and  he claims to have known her father and wants to talk with her.  Although she is disconcerted by his familiarity. reluctantly she agrees to meet with him since she has no other leads to follow.

When they meet the next day he asks:

Do you believe in love, Julia? Of course I am not referring to those out bursts of passion that drive us to do and say things we will later regret…No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death.

And then he begins the story about her father.

Tender and sweet but never cloying or trite this is one of the most profound love stories I have read. Sendker, captures both the universality of this love and its rootedness in the culture of Burma. As U Ba masterfully tells his story we see the life of Tin Win, Julia’s father, unfolds in all its complexity, hardship, betrayal and endurance, and yet it is not a sad story instead it is a story of resilience, and strength, and faithfulness and it is in the end a vivid reminder of the power of love.

Brenda’s Rating: ****( 4 out of 5 Stars)

Recommend this book to: Marian, Keith, Lauren and Lauren

Book Study Worthy: Yes!

Read in ebook format.





This entry was posted in Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Series and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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