Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (335 pages)
Our Missing Hearts Is Pushing The Boundaries Of Perspective And Politics
From the author of Little Fires Everywhere comes a taunt and suspenseful tale about a loving mother and the child she leaves behind.
Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives with his father after his mother’s abrupt departure nearly three years ago. His father is heartbroken, but protective of his son’s inquisitive mind. The world in which they live is governed by what is deemed “American.” The PACT, a government agency, can step in anytime to rehome a child being raised in an environment determined to be un-American, their target often being children of Asian descent.
In addition, libraries are being forced to remove works that are seen as unpatriotic – including a work by Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet. Bird harbors deep resentment for his mother, unaware what she sacrificed to save him.
One day, Bird receives a mysterious letter containing a cryptic drawing leading him to search out his mother. This journey will bring to life the many tales told to him throughout his childhood, expose him to an underground network of librarians and land him on the doorstep of the one person who broke his heart.
But never underestimate a mother’s love.
This Isn’t Exactly Our World, but It Isn’t Not Ours Either
“The PACT is more than a law. It’s a promise we make to each other; a promise to protect our American ideals and values; a promise that for people who weaken our country with un-American ideas, there will be consequences.”- From Let’s Learn about PACT, A Guide for Young Patriots
This story is deeply poignant and incredibly terrifying. It’s a political drama reminiscent of our past, and unfortunately our present. It tackles book banning, anti-Asian hate, inequality, forced family separation, xenophobia and perceived patriotism.
I was surprised at this book’s dystopian feel, and the author’s ability to overlay social injustices we’ve witnessed over the past few decades into the story. It’s as if the author is saying, “What if this happened by writing this book?” The author’s notes explain that this isn’t exactly our world, but it isn’t not ours either. Ng drew inspiration from real-life events, and things imagined became reality by the time Our Missing Hearts’ was published. She explains that if this novel hits a nerve with you, which she hopes it does, that you the reader learn more about these instances, past and present.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 stars
Told in three parts, this story is truly about Bird. He is a compelling teenager who wants to understand “why” the world sees him and his father, and how other Asian Americans are seen so differently in a country they are born in.
Our Missing Hearts showcases the power of words, shared stories and the marginalized communities who have been silenced. This is an emotional, brilliantly written story that explores complex and timely issues. It’s chilling, as it hits close to reality.
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Shannon K. Loar is a small town girl with a passion for reading. Books have played a significant role in her life since her youth where she’d spend hours in the local library where her grandma served as the librarian. In her free time, you can find Shannon reading or listening to a book, practicing yoga or binging a streaming show. Her most precious time is spent with her children ages 20, 18 and 15. Her new favorite fashion trend, athletic leisure.