Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.
Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.
Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published October 4th 2022
by Penguin Press
This is my first time reading a Celeste Ng book, and it's another case of being swayed by social media; sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
Our Missing Hearts begins with a 12-year-old boy named Bird, and I wanted to love this book because apparently everybody else did. I tried hard, switching over to the audiobook at the halfway mark.The first part was intriguing; there was lots of the unknown, and I was curious as to the why and how of what was going on. Once the point of view changed from Bird to his mother, things slowed down. My questions weren't really answered in a way that made me understand everything that was going on, and so my enjoyment waned.
Our Missing Hearts is more a telling story rather than showing, its about a boy searching for answers and a mom he is desperate to find. It was an okay read that didn't pack the same punch for me that others felt.