Our Missing Hearts

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng our-missing-hearts-jacket

This dystopian novel is stunning. Character-centered, with lyrical writing, and a heart-wrenching and beautiful storyline. At times, though, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep reading, and it’s also sad and unsettling. Bird Gardner is 12, and is now known as Noah. He lives with his father Ethan on the 10th floor of a college dormitory where the elevator sometimes break down. They eat most of their meals in a cafeteria. Once a linguistics professor at Harvard, Ethan now shelves books in the college library. Bird’s only friend at school, Sadie, has been taken away from her parents.

Bird’s mother, Margaret Miu, left three years ago, as her poetry was being used in protests around the country, and she is a PAO, or person of Asian origin. An economic crisis over a decade ago has led to an authoritarian society in which China and Asian Americans were blamed. After receiving mail from his mother, Bird goes to New York City to find her. He learns about the quiet heroism of librarians, who are trying to trace the children who were taken from their Asian American and/or activist parents.

The power of storytelling and of art, and the impacts of activism are the heart of this story, along with the fierce love Ethan and Margaret have for Bird, and for each other. While not terse, there are no unnecessary words in this deeply moving and occasionally hopeful novel.


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