Our Missing Hearts

Our Missing Hearts, a 2022 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fiction, didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I must admit, I’m not sure what led me to pick it up for review.

Bird Gardner is a twelve-year-old boy who lives with his father on the tenth floor of a Harvard dorm apartment. The government made laws to preserve “American culture” after years of violence and economic instability. These laws permit book banning and relocating children of dissidents, particularly those of Asian origin.

Bird’s mother, Margaret Miu, a Chinese American poet, left the family when he was nine, her work labeled as subversive. Margaret is now a target under the shadow of the “Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act” (PACT). Bird doesn’t know her whereabouts, but when he receives a cryptic drawing from her, he embarks on a quest to find her.

I adored Celeste Ng’s, Little Fires Everywhere. The characters were vivid and unforgettable, and the plot had me hooked from the very first page to the last. It was a solid five-star read that I’d wholeheartedly recommend. Unfortunately, I can’t extend the same enthusiasm to “Our Missing Hearts.”

I must confess I’m not a huge fan of dystopian, futuristic novels. While I don’t shy away from sad tales, this one just felt a tad overwhelming for my taste. The pacing left me wanting, and I struggled to form any deep connections with the characters.

Author Celeste Ng is either a genius or this novel is just a random collection of streams of consciousness. Nothing much happened, and I gave up about midway through. If you’re into Margaret Atwood or Octavia Butler, you might give this a try. It wasn’t my jam. 2 stars.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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