I know I talked about The Art of Hearing Heartbeats the other day, but I just finished it tonight and…it is one of those books that you have to read in your life. Tears sprung to my eyes in the office at work as I finished the final chapter. It is so good, and life affirming, and makes the heart ache (but in a good way), and it’s pretty much been the only thing on my mind since I finished it a couple of hours ago.
The plot centers around Julia Win, an adult woman whose father went missing four years ago without a trace. One day, her mother gives her a box of her father’s things, and in it is a letter to Mi Mi, someone living in a small Burmese town no one has ever heard of. The letter, clearly a love letter, is dated 1955 and talks about the five-thousand days they’ve been apart, and promises that the time will come soon that they’ll be together again.
My beloved Mi Mi,
Five thousand eight hundred and sixty-four days have passed since last I heard the beating of your heart. do you realize how many hours that is? How many minutes? Do you know how impoverished a bird is that cannot sing, a flower that cannot blossom? How wretched a fish out of water?
It is difficult to write to you, Mi Mi. I have written you so many letters that I have never sent. What could I tell you that you don’t already know? As if we needed ink and paper, letters and words, in order to communicate. You have been with me through each of the 140,736 hours–yes, it has already been that many–and you will be with me until we meet again. (Forgive me for stating the obvious just this one time.) When the time comes, I will return. How flat and empty the most beautiful words can sound. How dull and dreary life must be for those who need words, who need to touch, see, or hear one another in order to be close. Who need to prove their love, or even just to confirm it in order to be sure of it.
Julia flies to Burma to find her father, and has no idea that in the process what she will uncover about his incredible life.
I found the above image on my computer and it immediately reminded me of this beautiful story.
I can’t say enough about this book! Find it at the library (I did), or just buy it (which I’ll also be doing). I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.