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The Art of Hearing Heartbeats [Paperback]

Jan-Philipp Sendker
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,191 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 31, 2012 1590514637 978-1590514634 Translation 2006
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2012: I'll admit that when I first read the title of Jan-Philipp Sendker's novel, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, I winced (just a little). Something about it gave off a whiff of well-aged Stilton, but this love story is no stinky cheese. In it, a respected New York City attorney vanishes, supposedly en route to a business trip, leaving an embittered wife and dumbfounded daughter behind. No, I'm not getting my genres mixed-up. While there's a mystery--one the daughter, Julia, travels to Burma to unravel--what she uncovers there is anything but sinister. Julia is a cynical sleuth, and your suspension of disbelief will be tested, too, but as this sweeping romance unfolds, you'll gladly fall for it. --Erin Kodicek

From Booklist

Already a huge hit in Europe, Sendker’s debut is a lush tale of romance and family set in mid-twentieth-century Burma. Four years after her father mysteriously disappeared, Julia Win traces him to the small town of Kalaw after finding a love letter among his possessions addressed to a woman named Mi Mi. In Kalaw, an old man named U Ba approaches her, promising to tell her the story of her father’s life before he came to New York and met her mother. As a child, Tin Win was abandoned by his mother, who was told by an astrologer the boy was cursed. At 10, Tin Win gradually goes blind. He’s taken in by a kindly neighbor, who finds him a home at a local monastery. It is there that he meets Mi Mi, whose crippled legs make her as much of an outsider as Tin Win. Their natural camaraderie quickly turns into love, but their happiness is brief. A beautiful tale bound to enchant readers on this side of the Atlantic. --Kristine Huntley

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; Translation 2006 edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590514637
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590514634
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
140 of 153 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and balance January 31, 2012
The first third of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is enthralling. The remainder of the novel is problematic; it sustained my interest but not my enthusiasm.

After telling her that he was leaving for an appointment in Boston, Julia Win's father boarded a flight to Thailand and disappeared. The Times described him as "an influential Wall Street lawyer" but the police suspect he had a hidden past. Burmese by birth, Tin Win became an American citizen in 1959. Julia, a recent law school graduate, viewed her father as staid, reliable, out-of-date -- not the sort of person whose life is filled with mystery or who takes an unannounced trip to Thailand. Four years after his disappearance, Julia finds a letter he wrote to a woman named Mi Mi. Julia travels to Kalaw, determined to find Mi Mi, the only clue to her father's past. There she meets U Ba, who has been waiting to tell her the story Tin Win told him, a story from which "a life emerged, revealing its power and its magic."

Just as we're settling into Julia's quest, the story shifts to the one told by U Ba. It starts with Mya Mya, a young Burmese woman who regards the birth of Tin Win as a calamity. An astrologer's prediction that he will lose his sight is soon fulfilled. After his parents die, Tin is taken to a monastery. It is there that he first meets Mi Mi -- or, more precisely, that he first hears her heartbeat. Mi Mi was born with "crippled feet"; their disabilities draw Tin and Mi Mi together.

Hearts and heartbeats are frequent images in the novel. Jan-Philipp Sendker also makes good use of the imagery of balance: Mi Mi, for instance, is emotionally well balanced even though she is incapable of balancing on her misshapen feet. Tin balances his blindness with exceptional hearing.
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203 of 226 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST book I've read in years January 2, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you are an Amy Tan fan and/or you enjoyed 'The Bridges of Madison County' or 'Memoirs of a Geisha', then you will love this book! This is a love story between a boy named Tin Win and a girl named Mi Mi that lasts over 50 years and it's so beautiful, heartbreaking, touching and haunting. This book has the right mix of romance, magic, heartache and inspiration that will make it a favorite for many people. For years 'The Art of Hearing Heartbeats' has been a bestseller in Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Serbia, Israel, Croatia and Japan. Finally it has been translated in English and I'm so in love with this story that I've added it to my list of favorite books. I don't write book reports or spoilers in my reviews in order to avoid giving everything away, but what I will say is, don't hesitate to buy this book! This brilliant author, Jan-Philipp Sendker, has gifted us with a story that is so powerful and moving, it will touch your heart and you will want to share it with everybody. It is THAT good.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Romance or morally wrong? January 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a book that inspired a very lively discussion in our book club. It deals with moral obligation and the dilemma of following your heart or listening to your head. What is right or wrong depends on your perspective and this book invites you to decide what you would have done given the circumstances. Average writing but thought-provoking premise.
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144 of 170 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flatline February 26, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book based upon another review that said --- "If you like Amy Tan..." (I do), and "If you like Bridges of Madison County..." (I did)... then you should read this book. Having now read the book, I would not go quite that far. This book is not as good as Amy Tan or even Bridges of Madison County. The writing is trite and repetitive. The phrase "children singing" occurs so often you begin to wish the children would just stop singing already. Great literature it is not. On the other hand, the central love story is compelling and would make a fine movie. Indeed, variations of this same love story - two young lovers separated through circumstances beyond their control are spared the messy business of navigating life side-by-side thus leaving their perfect love intact - have already made several dozen fine movies. I did want to keep reading just to see what would happen next and that has to be worth something. In this case: three stars.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art of Hearing Heartbeats February 8, 2012
By mharvi
Format:Kindle Edition
I couldn't put this book down. I read it in just a day or two and I found it to be a beautiful story lovingly told by a talented writer. It is magical and poignant; an amazing, achingly sublime love story. It is a tale of faithfulness, perseverance, hope and trust. When have you ever loved someone enough to let them go without hatred or malice? Have you ever felt that kind of deep emotion that rings true thorough out your life despite the circumstances? Funny how people live lives that they know they were not meant to live simply because it is convenient or the right thing to do. As I read this book my heart ached for the characters but it ached also for myself. There is something in this book that will touch you profoundly, spur you onto greater heights. I know this because one can not read this tale without thinking about one's own life and the trajectory it is taking them on. Are you really living how you want, with whom you want...are you really honoring your soul or are you only marking time until some later date? Perhaps we could all learn the art of hearing heartbeats, beginning with listening to our own.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the book
I loved the book. It captured me right away. It was beautifully written and I didn't want it to end.
Published 12 hours ago by Judy Neustadter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thought provoking great read.
Published 13 hours ago by JO LEASK
5.0 out of 5 stars I can highly recommend this book
I can highly recommend this book. What a treasure. Set within a Buddhist framework the stoy weaves a rich and colourful tapestry that leaves the heart full and satisfied. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by Raylee Delaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great beautiful unusual story and a vet quick read
Published 1 day ago by Shirley A Benedict
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
An intriguing story, but felt it glossed over why he stayed in the US so long.
Published 1 day ago by Chariot
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book
The Art of Hearing Heatbeats is a story of life and love. A story that winds it's way through nearly eight decades of the life of a man, the people he loved and those who loved... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Neil Stein
2.0 out of 5 stars long
It's okay. I loved during part 1, throughout part 2 things seemed to drag on, & part 3 left me curious.
Published 2 days ago by Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible!
I don t want to sound mean. But I have no idea what I was thinking when I chose this book. I don't know why I even finished it except I guess I kept hoping it would become a... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Nursemardi
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book!!!
I LOVE this book and am raving about it to family and friends!!! SOOOOO good!!!
Published 3 days ago by Celeste Nava
4.0 out of 5 stars Did find the language a bit flowery for my taste but the story was a...
Wanted to keep reading to find out what happened to her father. Did find the language a bit flowery for my taste but the story was a good one.
Published 3 days ago by Ellen Rothschild
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