Our Missing Hearts: A Novel
by Celeste Ng
Paperback- $13.48

An instant� New York Times� bestseller� â?¢� A� New York Times� Notable Book of 2022 ...

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  "Not quite as good as previous writing." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 10/12/22

Our Missing Hearts , Celeste Ng, author, Lucy Liu, and Celeste Ng, narrators
This novel takes place sometime in the future. An authoritarian government is in charge in America. The story centers around the Gardner family. Ethan Gardner was once a professor, but due to the escapades of his wife, Margaret Miu, he now works for the University in a different and much lower capacity, maintaining order in the Library. In the world he lives in, absolute obedience is required from all citizens according to the rules of PACT and his wife Margaret has strayed. Because of her activities, defying the government’s policies, she decides to simply leave the family in order to protect them. As she is under investigation, Ethan and their son Noah, known as Bird, now must deny having anything whatsoever to do with her. They hope to escape further retribution of any kind.
(Was PACT inspired by how the author feels about what some now believe is the misbegotten Patriot Act?). PACT is the acronym for The Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act. As in most governments, as power is gained and its strength is determined by money and greed, it corrupts those involved. This government is no different. This government has gained complete and utter control over all of its citizens. The powers that be have made China and those of that background the enemy. Patriotism is of the utmost importance. Crime is increasing and often ignored depending on the victim’s identity.
PACT bans unpatriotic behavior, requires citizens to report each other for failure to be patriotic, bans dissent and certain types of speech. Disobeying the rules and defying the policies, brings profound retribution. Children are frequently removed from their homes if the atmosphere is deemed dangerous. If a neighbor reports a family, they are immediately investigated, and usually the children are taken. They are placed elsewhere to be raised by more model citizens. Once separated, further contact is forbidden forever. They are “replaced” children. Even children who are ill behaved are removed since the cause is considered to be poor parenting. Certain people are considered enemies and are relentlessly targeted. The charges may be true or untrue, inspired by jealousy, perhaps reported by a co-worker, a neighbor, or even by some remark or post they once made.
PACT was given credit for ending the economic crisis that brought the country to its knees. People largely approved of these draconian practices to end the crisis, but they created another situation, a situation in which they lost their freedom to think and act. There was almost zero tolerance for the accused. The citizens began to live in fear as more and more control was exerted and neighbor turned in neighbor and friend turned in friend. No one could speak out for fear of being silenced or worse. Only one lone voice was crying out for change, and she became a target. Margaret (Miu) Gardner, a poet, and the Wife of Ethan and the mother of Bird, was under investigation for her radical behavior and writings. She became the face of the resistance.
I found the timeline of the story unclear. The narrative also bounced around a bit which was confusing, and while the book’s subject was engaging, it never quite captured my full attention or further enlightened or inspired me as the author’s previous writing had done. There was no resolution or indication about whether or not the future would be able to bring change or whether or not Margaret’s efforts were worth it. Will the children, like Noah and Sadie, alter our future in a positive way or will they fail in that regard?
In the end, the author seemed a bit disingenuous, inserting her political views, trashing one President only, and not the one who brought us to the brink of war or to an economic crisis or into a cancel culture. Without her personal and what I believe was highly biased judgment, the book would have been better received by me. Her narrow approach to right and wrong is typical of the progressive authors today, and they demean their books, in my estimation, by bringing in these personal, and often dogmatic opinions that might actually point to themselves as part of the problem and not the solution. The book was indeed prescient and perhaps a warning to all of us not to allow a government to take away our freedoms under any circumstances. Once gone, they will not be returned. However, the book seemed unclear as to whom was the villain and who was the victim, in the end, even though the author tried to point that conclusion in only one direction.

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This was recommended by a friend

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  "Too much like real life" by ginnykin (see profile) 01/12/23

Sad, and difficult to get through. Lots of racism, violence, and a horrible government too much like the way our own is headed. Depressing to read and know that much of it is the truth.

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