Celeste Ng's third novel, Our Missing Hearts, is her most beautiful work yet. The child of a Chinese-American poet, Bird Gardner deeply misses his mother who left the family under questionable circumstances when he was nine. This is the story of a nation that has turned against itself. There is a Crisis and China is to blame. America has a legacy of taking children from their homes (separating enslaved families, boarding schools for Indigenous children), and this time the target is those who support or are of AAPI ancestry. Reminiscent of the Underground Railroad, a secret system develops via libraries that help to find our missing hearts, all the children. Our Missing Hearts examines the need to create art during times of cataclysm and the impact of a mother's love. This is a stunning book that wrecked me in that - this future America Ng has created - sometimes feels already here.
— Rachel Watkins
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.
About the Author
Celeste Ng is the number one New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. Her third novel, Our Missing Hearts, will be published in October 2022. Ng is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been published in over thirty languages.
PRAISE FOR LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE:
“Witnessing these two families as they commingle and clash is an utterly engrossing, often heartbreaking, deeply empathetic experience . . . The magic of this novel lies in its power to implicate all of its characters—and likely many of its readers—in that innocent delusion [of a post-racial America]. Who set the littles fires everywhere? We keep reading to find out, even as we suspect that it could be us with ash on our hands.” —Eleanor Henderson, The New York Times Book Review
“Ng has one-upped herself with her tremendous follow-up novel . . . a finely wrought meditation on the nature of motherhood, the dangers of privilege and a cautionary tale about how even the tiniest of secrets can rip families apart . . . Ng is a master at pushing us to look at our personal and societal flaws in the face and see them with new eyes . . . If Little Fires Everywhere doesn't give you pause and help you think differently about humanity and this country's current state of affairs, start over from the beginning and read the book again.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Stellar . . . Ng is a confident, talented writer, and it's a pleasure to inhabit the lives of her characters and experience the rhythms of Shaker Heights through her clean, observant prose . . . There's a lovely, balanced, dioramic quality to this novel . . . broad in scope and fine in detail, all while keeping the story moving at a thriller's pace.” —Los Angeles Times
“Delectable and engrossing . . . A complex and compulsively readable suburban saga that is deeply invested in mothers and daughters . . . What Ng has written, in this thoroughly entertaining novel, is a pointed and persuasive social critique, teasing out the myriad forms of privilege and predation that stand between so many people and their achievement of the American dream. But there is a heartening optimism, too. This is a book that believes in the transformative powers of art and genuine kindness—and in the promise of new growth, even after devastation, even after everything has turned to ash.” —Boston Globe
“If we know this story, we haven’t seen it yet in American fiction, not until now . . . This is, in the end, a novel about the burden of being the first of your kind—a burden you do not always survive.” —Alexander Chee, The New York Times Book Review
“Tender and merciless all at once . . . Vital in all the essential ways.” —Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing