The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker was originally written in German. Primarily set in Burma, it tells the story of Tin Win and Mi Mi. The jacket cover might lead one to believe that it the story of Tin Win’s daughter, Julia, who is trying to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance. However, this novel is not really a mystery and Julia just serves as the audience to hear the story of her father’s life–a story that she did not know. The story is related to her in an almost fable or fairy tale-like way.
The language is elegant and the imagery in this book is exquisite. However, whether this book was a victim of inflated expectations, my perceived inconsistency of the portrayal of love in this story, or my American cultural viewpoint, for some reason this book left me strangely unmoved. While it was not a chore to read, it was also not a compelling read. I was expecting a life-changing book and I closed the covers rather ambivalent about my reading experience.
Profanity/Language: 1 mild obscenity; 1 scatological word.
Violence/Gore: A few reports of death by accident and natural causes; fall resulting in minor injury; report of fall with injury, mention of blood.
Sex/Nudity: Report of a teenager pregnant out of wedlock; report of someone gong to a brothel; passing mention of an affair between an older man and a 16 year old (no details); characters kiss; characters attracted to one another; character desires another; passing reference to consummation of marriage; implied sexual activity; character visualizes/imagines member of opposite sex nude, with details and sexual innuendo; brief scene of sexual encounter between teenagers with some explicit details; characters have sex, brief scene with some explicit details.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, Physical Disabilities, Parental Abandonment, Superstition/Astrology, Racism, Pregnancy out of Wedlock
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adults smoke; adult rolls cigars for a living; it is reported that a person drank and dealt in opium.