Karen's Reviews > The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats

The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
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's review
Feb 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: asia, family, love, aging, loss-and-grief, special-need, powerful-narrative-poignant, travel, medical
Read from February 18 to 21, 2012 , read count: 1

This book is about love.

I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This book drew me in from the first page until the end. The book was written in a narrative, story-telling style that is very intriguing and mythical. Having the majority of the story taking place in Burma also added to the allure.

The story begins when Julia Win arrived Burma, looking for her Father who left suddenly without a trace 4 years ago, leaving her Mom and two children. She met an older man in a tea house who asked her a question:

"Do you believe in love?"
"Of course I am not referring to those outbursts of passion that drive us to do and say things that well will later regret, that delude us into think we cannot live without a certain person....a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on to what we cannot."
"No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death."

Thus this unforgettable story begins, a love that transcends 50 years, from Kalaw to New York and back; a love that defies time and distance. The descriptions of Asia and mythical practices and beliefs were very accurate, though unbelievable for most westerners. The ending was quite satisfactory in my point of view. Although I would love to hear more about Julia and his Dad's life in New York, as well as more descriptions of everyday life in Burma, since this story captivated me so. I guess I just didn't want it to end...

I do have a question remain after finishing the book:
Is the bond of romantic love is ultimately stronger than the familial one, or are the two incomparable? Can they be exclusive? If they are, which one would you give up?
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Reading Progress

9.0% "I stumbled upon another book about love...3 in a row! Someone asked the main character: "Do you believe in love?" right in the beginning! It's a bit overbearing..."
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Angela (new)

Angela I LOVE books about love, so I might add this one to my list. :)
The love described in the excerpt sounds like the Judeo-Christian idea of AGAPE love, which is an all-encompassing love... difficult to attain... and the way many people would like to be loved. Agape is beyond romantic love, platonic love, and familial love.
I will have to look up the Greek "agape" to get a more precise definition.

Karen I first learned of the word agape in bible studies! I think you'll like the book, and it's exotic setting, Angela!

message 3: by Angela (new)

Angela I will try it, Karen!

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