The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

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This is another book that my son chose for me.  I am not sure if he goes by the covers, reads the back of the books, or if it is just plain intuition, but he always finds something that carries a message that I need to hear.  And, in this book, hearing is basically the main theme.

The story is told rather slowly and simply from the perspective of a Burmese elder to a younger woman who is searching for answers about the disappearance of her father.  She comes to learn a part of her father’s history that she had never known- one that is based in trauma and loss.  Having lost both of his parents (his father dies, his mother leaves), he is quite literally *blinded* with grief, losing his eyesight.. and over time cultivates a heightened sense of hearing that leads him into a relationship with a young woman who is also seemingly ‘disabled’- she does not have the use of her legs.  The two may seem broken individually, but together there is a wholeness that allows them to feel happiness and contentment.  Until….  well, I will leave that piece to imagination in order not to give away the whole story.

I enjoyed reading this book.  It was slowly paced, which I resisted at times.  But then I realized that in order to hear, to listen, sometimes we need to slow down and pay attention.  So, in that respect, I really appreciated the details and long descriptive passages.  Overall, I thought it was a thought-provoking journey in which the way the story was told reflected the material that was being presented.  I got used to it, and now that it is over, I kind of miss listening to the elder’s voice in my head, and wandering through the Burmese villages and countryside…  I did see that there is a sequel, so perhaps I will continue the journey at some point when I need to slow down again…

5 comments on “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker”

  1. I am all about slowing down and paying attention these days — all this talk about color has got me on an adventure about the color green. I promise I’m still reading, too!

    I feel like your son is a part of our reading group since he is always bringing us such interesting opportunities 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like your son is in our group too. Does he also enjoy novels? Does he read some of the books he gives to you? His picks are always interesting.

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    1. Well, it has become a tradition for Michael to pick out books for me for all the holidays- Christmas, my birthday, Mother’s Day…. so I seem to always have some of these books during our challenges..! He is more of a writer than a reader, mostly because he is soooo busy all the time with school and theater work (he is a big wig lighting designer for his high school program and always has a show to work on….). But he does love books and keeps up with a lot of the YA writers- a couple favorites are Jason Reynolds and Nic Stone, who he actually got to meet while working on a story festival last year in our town. He also loves poetry and particularly the modern poetry we work on in ModPo- definitely a Dickinsonian. I love seeing things through his eyes, because he is a very interesting kid and his mind just interprets things in a very unique way. So when he selects my books, I never know what I am going to get. They are all so different, and it makes my reading experience fresh…

      Anyway, I mentioned that our group enjoys his choices, and he was appreciative.. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Meredith, what wealth to have fresh eyes choose books for you. What a gift. And what pleasure to read how you speak of your son. Really makes me smile. As to this latest book, I like the idea of slowing down to really see, really listen.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Found this book in donations today at Friends of the Library and picked it up! It is helpful to have the photo 🙂 I’m excited to read!!

    Liked by 1 person

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