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Our Missing Hearts

A Novel

by Celeste Ng

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng X
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
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  • Published:
    Oct 2022, 352 pages


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There are currently 23 reader reviews for Our Missing Hearts
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Pam S. (Wellesley, MA)

A cautionary tale
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is a terrifying and all too believable fable that imagines a not-too-distant future America where a law has been passed that protects "American Values." The first part of the book is told from the perspective of Bird, a young boy whose mother disappeared three years earlier. It describes his life in a society that removes children from parents who are believed to not be sufficiently American. The second part is from his mother Margaret's point of view and describes her experiences in the years after the passage of PACT (Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act)." The book is beautifully written and a page-turner. Among other things it is a love letter to libraries and those who protect free speech.
Sarah B

Timely and Wonderful
A book that is timely and wonderfully written. The echoes of current societies in this dystopian America where people of certain ethnicities are forced to deal with state sanctioned racism. This book is in equal turns heart breaking and can offer a sense of hope too. I hope everyone that reads it loves it as much as I do.
Joyce M. (Arlington, VA)

A must read!
This book is very timely! It tells the story of a twelve-year old boy, Bird, who lives with his father in Cambridge, MA. They are living in a time when P.A.C.T. (Preserving American Culture and Traditions) is in place. Books have been banned and people are constantly worrying about being reported as not being patriotic. Some children have been separated from their parents for their own good. Bird's mother has left the family because her Asian ethnicity could put the family at risk. It's been three years since she left but Bird still misses her, and, without his father's knowledge, decides to find her based on a letter he received with a New York return address.

Next, we learn about Bird's mother, Margaret, and her life as a young woman before she met Bird's father, Ethan. It also describes the gradual changes going on in the country as the economy declines and people become desperate. Trust, in general, deteriorates and people look to blame China. There are massive job losses leading to riots and protests. This time period is known as the Crisis. We also learn more about what Margaret has been doing since she left her family.

The final part brings all the issues raised in the first two sections to a climatic end, or does it? As much as I admire how empathetically this book is written, I was disappointed with the end. I didn't feel that the level of detail that was used in the first two parts carried into the third. It seems to quickly conclude with too many unanswered questions for me. Yet there is one very significant revelation that will warm your heart.

I still rate the book as a must read! It enables readers to see what a future might look and feel like as we continue to engage in many of the activities described in this novel.
Alison F. (Clearwater, FL)

The Power of Words
Celeste Ang's Our Missing Hearts is a near dystopian novel that seems not far from our own current reality. In this case Asian but more specifically those with Chinese heritage are blamed for all troubles. The book though is about the power of words that are intended, misinterpreted or manipulated and the affects of the world on those not wishing to be part of it. The mom Margaret and 12 year old son, Bird are the voices through this frighteningly realistic tale. Nag delivers an important cautionary tale.
Linda S. (Milford, CT)

Our Missing Hearts
I reacted at first with the thought that I didn't want to read a book about the Crisis, a time of disruptions, people out of work, factories idle, shortages of everything. It was not unlike our COVID. I was quickly drawn in by the excellent characters and writing. He was Bird until his mother left when he was nine; then his Dad began to call him Noah. His Dad was a linguist at a college library, likening his job to Sisyphus. His mother, Margaret Miu, was Chinese American, a some time poet of little fame, until a young Black college student is killed. She was wearing a sweatshirt with a phrase from one of Margaret's book of poems 'All our Missing Hearts'. Indirectly, the phrase was a catalyst for a hate campaign against Asians and Margaret eventually disappeared for her safety and her beloved family. Margaret's leaving affected Bird in a myriad of ways. Love, especially a mother's love, can move mountains, but Bird was pretty tenacious in his search for Margaret. This is a great book for discussion. If you can put this book down after meeting Bird Gardner, good luck! I felt privileged to have the opportunity to read and review this amazing book.
Donna C. (Cary, NC)

A Timely Novel for Our Country Today
I feel like this book doesn't need anything said except:


However for those who may need a bit more proof (or prodding), I offer my thoughts. This book is set in a dystopian world that is scarily comparable to where we may be heading. Many of the themes are ones that have already occurred, are presently happening, and could happen if we continue down the path some people in power want us to follow. This is a dark look at what happens when the government institutes a new policy, and you either follow along or suffer the devastating consequences. The characters in this book are ones that I will remember (and worry about) for a long time to come. The writing is beautiful, and the protagonists are so well developed. The ending is devastating, yet somehow also manages to convey a sense of hope for the future. I absolutely loved the role of the librarians, major kudos to all of you! Such an impactful novel about family bonds, and trying to change a broken system.

An amazing book that I hope everyone gets their hands on!
Amy W. (Annapolis, MD)

Great Story
Very timely dystopian story of a future society where our freedoms are taken away in the name of patriotism. Beautifully written and engaging. Young Bird's search for his mother who left him at 9 to protect him from being taken away. Through the stories she told him in his childhood he pieces together where she might be.

I loved this book. It was unnerving because I could see with our divided nation how something like what Ng described in the book could happen in real life.
Rule B. (Portland, OR)

Past, Present and Future
After having vividly remembered reading Celeste Ng's previous novels, I was eager for her third, Our Missing Hearts. If possible, I would have preferred to not put the book down before it was finished ! The story line was mesmerizing as it switched between present and past, reminding me of the dystopian qualities of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. Our Missing Hearts' tell-tale resonance brought to mind the ideas: Poetry is a life force; folktales preserve the past's wisdoms; society unlearns lessons & then must go to extremes to stop repeating the past's dysfunctions; art as protest; and written and spoken words matter because of their potential power for both good and evil. I was touched by the example of the efficacy of libraries in the communities' resilience and librarians as a vital source of protection for literature's and children's survival. Our memories can be the engines to drive change; our creative genomes can endure. Ng's voice is both an essential warning and paean to the protection of all our freedoms lest they disappear.
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