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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Our Missing Hearts

Narrator: Lucy Liu

Penguin Audio

ISBN: 978-0593492543

Pub Date: 10/04/2022

Publisher: Penguin Press

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 5 Stars

Named a Most-Anticipated Book by TIME, Vulture, Buzzfeed, The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, The Millions, LitHub, Goodreads, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and more...

“As lyrical as it is chilling, as astonishing as it is empathic, Our Missing Hearts arguably achieves literary perfection.”—Booklist (starred review)

From the number one bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere, a deeply suspenseful and heartrending novel about the unbreakable love between a mother and child in a society consumed by fear

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.

Asian American Literature & Fiction

Dystopian Fiction

Family Life Fiction

My Review

Celeste Ng's third novel, OUR MISSING HEARTS is a cautionary tale and warning about present-day political, racial, and inequality issues. But it is so much more. The chilling part—it is very close to our today's reality.

Even though a fictional dystopian story, events are ever present in our world today. We are seeing them before our very eyes. It may make you uncomfortable and sad; unfortunately, this is our evil world and what is to come. It will break your heart. A wake-up call.

Meet Noah (Bird) Gardner, age 12, the young, half-Chinese American who is raised in this dangerous environment. He has lost his famous Chinese-American loveable mother (Margaret), an artist and advocate. He is told to forget her.

Then he receives a mystery letter with his mom's handwriting and drawings.

Ethan, Bird's father, a former linguist —now more of a broken man. There is the Pact. If you oppose it, your life will be ripped apart. The Preserving of American Cultures and Traditions Act.

We see children removed from their homes; people are imprisoned with nowhere to turn. Caging, hate crimes, violent, protests, police brutality, and more. Where is safety? From Asians, Blacks, and those who go against the grain—racial injustices. Does this seem all too familiar? Families separated by ignorance and hatred. Dark and disturbing. Banned books are also referenced, which we are already seeing in our world today.

While part of the book focuses on Noah and the search for his mom. The second half is more of Margaret's story.

OUR MISSING HEARTS is beautifully written and, at its center, a story of a mother's love and the sacrifices a parent makes to keep their children safe.

I enjoyed the importance and power of words, books, poetry, art, and storytelling. Also, the librarians in this world (under the radar) and real heroes! The voices of those who have been silenced.

A political crisis leads to racism and violence. Has American society lost its heart? The title has a special profound meaning. Highly emotional, Bird and Margaret will bring you to tears.

For readers who enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale, and fans of literary fiction, family sagas, adventure, mystery, dystopian, heroism, and bravery.

Celeste Ng eloquently pens a powerful and timely story that is complex, relevant, and one that will remain with you long after the book ends. A must-read for every family!

The audiobook was exceptional, narrated by Lucy Liu, and her voice was hauntingly beautiful. Highly recommend.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pub Date: Oct 4, 2022


“Known for focusing on families, race, and relationships, Ng raises the bar another notch in a story intensified by reference to such police violence, political protest, book banning, and discrimination against people of color. Ng’s beautiful yet chilling tale will resonate with readers who enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Jessamine Chan’s more recent School for Good Mothers. As with her previous novels, her storytelling will not disappoint.”

—Library Journal (starred review)

“Sensitive, nuanced, and vividly drawn . . . Thoroughly engrossing and deeply moving . . . Taut and terrifying, Ng’s cautionary tale transports us into an American tomorrow that is all too easy to imagine.”

—Kirkus (starred review)

“Remarkable . . . Ng crafts an affecting family drama out of the chilling and charged atmosphere, and shines especially when offering testimony to the power of art and storytelling . . . Ng’s latest crackles and sizzles all the way to the end.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[So] much of this utterly stupendous tale is hauntingly, horrifically, historically, currently all too real, from removing and caging children to anti-Asian hate crimes, violent protests, police brutality, and despotic (so-called) leadership. Yet Ng creates an exquisite story of unbreakable family bonds, lifesaving storytelling (and seemingly omniscient librarians!), brilliantly subversive art, and accidentally transformative activism. As lyrical as it is chilling, as astonishing as it is empathic, Our Missing Hearts arguably achieves literary perfection.”

—Booklist (starred review)

“Like Ng’s previous novels, this one promises to be thrillingly paced and deeply felt.”

—Literary Hub, "Most Anticipated Books of 2022"

“An eerie, prophetic novel . . . [that] showcases Ng's own ingenuity and range. Brilliantly envisioned and filled with Ng's signature tender, intimate character work and complex family dynamics, this coming-of-age story asks what it means to be a good parent or a good citizen when every child is at risk, as well as what power art has to challenge injustice.”

—Shelf Awareness

About the Author

Photo: Kieran Kesner

Celeste Ng is the author of three novels, Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere, and Our Missing Hearts.

Her first novel, Everything I Never Told You (2014), was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the ALA’s Alex Award. It has been translated into over thirty languages and is being adapted for the screen.

Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere (2017) was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a #1 Indie Next bestseller, and Amazon's Best Fiction Book of 2017. It was named a best book of the year by over 25 publications, the winner of the Ohioana Award and the Goodreads Readers Choice Award 2017 in Fiction, and has spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. Little Fires Everywhere has been published abroad in more than 30 languages and has been adapted as a limited series on Hulu, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

Her third novel, Our Missing Hearts, will be published on October 4, 2022.








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