Our Missing Hearts

Penguin Pr. Oct. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780593492543. $29. F
Incorporating recent events into her narrative, the best-selling Ng (Little Fires Everywhere) crafts a dystopian tale about societal repression and a mother’s love. It follows the quest of 12-year-old Bird (“Noah”) Gardner to understand why his Chinese American mother, published poet Margaret Miu, seemingly abandoned him and his father, Ethan, three years earlier. Instructed by his father to deny any association to his mother and not to stray when going about his daily routines, Bird must also be careful to follow the PACT (Preserving American Cultures and Traditions) passed by the government following a major worldwide crisis. He doesn’t want to raise any suspicions and risk being separated from his remaining parent, which happened to his classmate and closest friend, 13-year-old Sadie. 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.
VERDICT 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.
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