The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – Book Review

Published in Germany in 2002 by a German journalist Jan-Phillip Sendker, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is an epic narrative of love and pain set out in Burma, instilled with fairytale romanticism and Eastern spirituality.

The book is a story within a story of unyielding love, reliance and passion strong enough to move mountains. When Julia Win’s father disappears right after the day of her graduation, the family is left confused and unsettled. Days, months and even years pass before Julia’s mother finds an unmailed love letter to a Burmese woman named MiMi on her husband’s computer.

Determined to find this mystery woman and her father, Julia put her life and career on hold and sets out to travel to the village where MiMi once lived. On her journey, she is approached by a man in a small mountain village who claims to know her father. The man appears to have mysterious knowledge of her father’s childhood blindness, his youth and education at a monastery and learns of his passionate love affair with a local girl MiMi. Unwilling to believe the poignant story of the young boy, who now was her reticent father, Julia invokes past events and of a 50 year old silent, unfulfilled love larger than life itself.

If you are a Nicholas Sparks or Elizabeth Gilbert fan, you will devour the 352 page book in a day. But a bow down to Sendker for creating a masterpiece so heart-wrenching and poignant that it will take you on a journey of mixed emotions undeniably painful and joyous at the same time.

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