Bookmarks: Lovers listen to ‘heartbeats’
“The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” by German author Jan-Philipp Sendker is a moving story about love, destiny and a tireless hope that spans oceans and decades.
Told from the point of view of Julia Win, you are instantly immersed in her life, from her father’s disappearance to her mother’s frank and ostentatious attitude toward her family.
You learn how Julia willingly puts her professional life on hold to look for her father, thus discovering a part of her father that he always held secret.
Julia’s search takes her to a remote village in Burma and to a man who tells Julia her father’s past, about the boy he used to be and how he became the man she knew.
The story Julia gets is not a blow-by-blow string of incidents that every person experiences. What Julia gets is a story about a pair of people who have found the capacity for love and grace that most people are incapable of.
“The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” glides back and forth from present day to Tin Win’s, Julia’s father, adolescence.
Although Tin Win’s teen years were over 50 years ago, the transition from one time to another is absolutely seamless. Sendker has mastered the ability to make his words come alive by using sensory-image based vocabulary effectively and beautifully.
You are not over-burdened with too much pointless detail of the immediate surroundings, but the description allows you to feel, see, hear and touch every character, chapter and setting Sendker leads you through.
Yes, the cover is shiny and has flowers and butterflies on it. Yes, it is a love story told mostly from the point of view of a young adult woman.
There is a moment of mushy romanticism and intimacy (though only one, I promise) but “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” warmly transcends beyond the stereotypical trappings of an American love story a la Nicholas Sparks, and leaves you exhausted from the emotional journey you just took.