A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Phillip Sendker

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Yet another must-read by Jan-Phillip Sendker!  This sequel to the Art of Hearing Heartbeats is just as beautiful as the first – an accomplishment in its own right…

Julia, whose life has been in a lonely downward spiral, has begun to hear a voice.  It is the voice of a woman who is asking who she really is.  Julia, a savvy lawyer in NYC, is terrified that she’s losing her mind.  In her quest for peace from this voice, she encounters a monk who encourages her to return to the home of her deceased father and of her half-brother in Burma, where she might find the source of this voice.  As she begins to discover the story of the voice, she also learns a great deal about herself and what is really important to her.

The writing in this book achieves a level somewhere between poetry and philosophy.  There is more silence than sharp dialogue and it works so well in the context of the story.  What is said is often deeply wise  — so much so, that it needs to be read more than once to be fully appreciated.  And the story itself, while tragic and full of horror, is also incredibly beautiful and inspiring.

Most interesting to me, though, was the sharp contrast between the fast-paced luxury of NYC and the peaceful poverty of Burma.  Julia’s brother, U Ba, has a love of life and an appreciation for what little he has.  Here in NYC, we have so much and generally want more still.  There is a lot to be learned from the simple love, acceptance, and appreciation espoused by the wise characters in this book.

Must read!

 

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (migrated from bookblogger)

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillip Sendker

The Art of Heating Heartbeats is an absolutely beautiful story about a young lawyer, Julia, who takes a leave from her job to investigate her father’s disappearance.  Her father, Tin Win, had mysteriously left for a business trip and never returned and the only hint of his whereabouts was a love letter that had been found from him to a woman in Burma, in his home town.  When Julia arrives in this tiny town, she is met by a stranger who begins to tell her the story of her father and his upbringing and about the heart-wrenching love story he had been embroiled in during his youth.

The story is poetically woven, capturing the reader’s attention at the first page and never letting go.  The characters are as unique as the story itself and the reader cannot help but be drawn in to their story.  Tin Win’s teacher when he was a young boy, for example, became a tender father figure to him and was patient and kind and shared with Tin Win (and the reader) much wisdom.  Even Julia, who starts out as a daughter who feels hurt and angry and abandoned, develops a compassion for her father that she did not know she was capable of.

This is a powerful “love conquers all” story that wins your heart with every beat.