The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Finding Lost Romance in The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Bittersweet and laced with nostalgia, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a delightful book to read if you’re in the right frame of mind—one that allows for a bit of romance along with an unfolding mystery and some interesting geography. The story takes place in Burma and gives the reader a fascinating insight into that part of the world. It paints a delightful picture of a rural Burma slowly but surely inching its way back to the modern world after surviving one of the worst political mistakes made.

The tale starts with Julia, a woman in search of her Burmese father, Tin Win, who disappeared four years before. After she finds a mysterious old love letter, she travels to the Far East in the hope of finding him. There she meets a mysterious man called U Ba. He claims to have been waiting for her and to be familiar with her father and his life’s story, which involved being blind as a child.

Exploring a World of Auditory Intensity

Imagine you’re blind for a moment. While the thought of not being able to see may be daunting to those who can, blind people have no choice and must compensate for their inability to see by learning how to use other senses. As a child, Tin Win is abandoned by his superstitious mother because the stars were not auspiciously aligned when he was born, and he went blind. He lives with Buddhist monks who help him develop his other senses, such as the magical skill of distinguishing between people through their heartbeats. Of course, he finds a heartbeat that he falls in love with. It belongs to a girl who is crippled and can’t walk but also has a gift: healing song.

Is Their Love Indestructible?

The haunting intensity in which the tale of their love is told almost makes the reader forget to ask how he regains his sight and moves to America, or why he didn’t return to his love instead of marrying someone else. While The Art of Hearing Heartbeats may be just a touch unbelievable and overly tender to the more cynical reader, Jan-Philipp Sendker’s writing has an undeniably wonderful flow, which makes the book worth reading, even if you scoff at the idea of earth-shattering true love. It is a story about the redemptive power of love and its ability to free the person who is loved to some extent—all the qualities of love that get lost in a world that is increasingly possessive and selfish. This book tells a tale of a love that survives for over five decades in absolute silence.

Recommended for Romantics

Fans of mystery books will enjoy this work, and even the most jaded of us may feel a tug on the heartstrings as well. Yes, it’s a bit cliché, but at the very least, it is beautifully written and still has a healthy dose of melancholy, which means that it’s not all-fluff-no-substance, as is the case with so many romantic tales out there.

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