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This review is from: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Paperback)
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"Influential Wall Street Lawyer Disappears without Trace" screamed the headlines. The morning after Jane Win's graduation from law school, her father woke her to say goodbye, mentioning appointments in Boston. His family never saw him again, although he was eventually traced to Thailand, where the trail petered out.
Four years later, Julia's mother sends her a box of her father's papers and photographs. Among the passports, naturalization papers (Tin Win had been born in Burma), appointment books, and family photos is a heartbreaking unsent love letter in her father's hand. Jane immediately books a trip to Burma to find the mysterious Mi Mi and learn the truth of her father's abandonment of his family, despite her embittered mother's disapproval.
From there the story shifts into an entirely different tone, lyrical and slightly fantastic; as Julia learns her father's story from an old man in the village of his birth. Born, according to the astrologer, on an inauspicious day, Win Tin was abandoned by his mother after his father's accidental death, for which she blamed him. The rare (in a child) cataracts he developed shortly thereafter left him blind for most of his childhood.
It took me awhile to shift viewpoints and accept the superstitious, fatalistic perspective so foreign to my Western sense of self-determination and pragmatism; but the beauty and curiosity of the unusual tale eventually sucked me in completely. While the story sometimes threatens to topple into sentimental banality, the author somehow manages to skirt that pitfall; and has produced a remarkable allegory of the different forms of love and the possibility of ultimate trust in another. All in all, a beautiful and memorable book which has earned a permanent place in my library.