Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

image from LibraryThing
When I was first teaching I used to spend quite a bit of time helping my 4th graders learn to listen.  We would put our heads down on the desk and I would set a timer and they would remain perfectly (as perfectly as a 4th grader can) still and simply listen.  When the timer went off we would talk about what they heard - making a list on the board.  At first it was really hard for them to hear more than the hallway noise and feet shuffling - but they did get better.

That was a long time ago. As I read this book I kept remembering that practice - pausing and listening.

This is a love story and a societal critique carefully woven together in an engaging, fictional tale.

Julia is searching for her father in a land of unknowns.
Her father simply disappeared one day from his successful New York City job and his settled family.

Simply vanished.

Julia has decided to try to track him down.  She has only a name - Mi Mi and Burma - his homeland.

So - that sounds as fantastical as it could possibly be.
Traveling completely around the world to a dingy tea room in an bustling town to hear the story of her father.

How! How? How?!

And that is this story.

Built on impossible odds in improbable situations a love that knew no ends was created. And Julia alone was there to hear the story.

Her father, Tin Win was blind as a child - what?  - and fell deeply and completely in love with Mi Mi - wh0? - a beautiful girl with deformed feet.

As a pair they explored the town and countryside where they lived - Tin Win carrying Mi Mi on his back and Mi Mi navigating through the Burmese terrain.  How???  Partly because Tin Win had learned to listen at a depth unheard of.  He had learned to simply be and hear the whosh of a bird's heartbeat inside an egg, the slish of a snake under a log and Mi Mi became his eyes to prove he truly heard.

Then all changed when Tin Win was moved to the city for surgery and eventually to the States to work. His hearing became unnecessary,  he could see.  

And his life moved on into the western world.

But -  he was always listening for Mi Mi's heartbeat.

I know that because...well I don't want to say anything.  But he was listening!

This is an engaging tale, interesting and easy to read.

But, to really 'get' it takes some quiet and some focus.

I think that would have made Tin Win happy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beth, Thanks! As you well know, my struggle to SIT and read, I want to give this book some genuine effort. There is still some summer to get this done.