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. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Four years before the start of the novel, Julia Win's father, Tin Win, vanished. After receiving a copy of an old love letter written by him to a woman named Mi Mi, Julia travels to a remote village in Burma to find him. While at a teahouse in Burma, Julia meets U Ba, who claims to know what happened to her father. But the Tin Win of whom U Ba speaks is nothing like the father Julia remembers. She doubts at first that the story is true. But the more she listens and the more time she spends in Burma, the more she believes. Julia is moved by the tragic love story involving Tin Win, a blind boy in rural Burma, and Mi Mi, whose misshapen feet made it impossible for her to walk. VERDICT The heart of this sentimental novel is the romance between the teenagers Tin Win and Mi Mi in pre-World War II Burma. Recommended for readers who enjoy sweetly tragic romances.—Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. of Maryland
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Publishers Weekly Reviews
This tearful, circuitous German bestseller traces the lost romance between a blind young monk and a poor crippled girl in pre-WWII Burma. Sendker employs an elaborate secondhand flashback device to send Julia, an American lawyer, to Burma on a hunch that she might find clues to the whereabouts of her Burmese father, Tin Win, a prominent New York celebrity lawyer who was blind as a child and vanished four years ago, apparently of his own volition. Julia, born to Win and his American wife in 1968, is a New Yorker used to metropolitan conveniences. She arrives in the village of Kalaw by virtue of a beautiful 1955 love letter from her father to a woman named Mi Mi and immediately bristles at the pace and privation of village life. A stranger named U Ba soon helps Julia unravel the mystery of her father, from his astrologically inauspicious birth and abandonment by a superstitious mother to his ensuing blindness and delivery to Buddhist monks who teach him to use his other senses keenly. When Tin Win meets Mi Mi, a kind, crippled creature, she acts as his eyes as he carries her upon his back. Their love remains unbroken through 50 years of incredible vicissitudes. An epic narrative that requires enormous sentimental indulgence and a large box of tissues. (Jan.)
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When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter has any idea where he might be--until they find a love letter he wrote many years before, to a Burmese woman who is unknown to them. - (Baker & Taylor)
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 before, to a Burmese woman they never heard of. (This book was previously listed in Forecast.) Original. - (Baker & Taylor)
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. - (Random House, Inc.)