The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker



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.

    Liked by 1 person

    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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