“The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” was a magical foray into a world of hidden lands, everlasting love, and self discovery. When a successful man purposefully abandons his family in New York to reunite with the love of his youth in Burma, his lawyer daughter Julia, travels to the small town to understand why. Once there, she is overwhelmed with the knowledge that her father has once been blind and had been in love with a woman who was crippled. She begins to wonder whether we really ever know who our parents were before we knew them as parents. Julia allows herself to hear the story of her father’s youth, and ultimately accepts his decision to leave her.
The book is narrated by both Julia, and U Ba, a strange older man in Burma who tells her all about her father’s history. This style works well for the story, and allowed the plot to unfold perfectly. The short sentences and quick manner of speaking by U Ba lend authenticity of the romantic tale, which was enchanting, and read like a fairytale. The story was imaginative and built upon itself, never losing momentum. By seeing her father’s romance through the eyes of others, Julia finally understands the depths of her father’s heart. The language of the book richly described the land and culture, and the elements seemed to explode off the page. The ending was magical and fulfilling.
I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to someone looking for a story about love and adventure in far away lands. The premise and manner of storytelling were so unique that I think this book could be enjoyed by a wide variety of people. It was light and serious at the same time, a truly magical and unique book.