Marshmallow reviews Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Today Marshmallow reviews Our Missing Hearts, a novel by Celeste Ng, first published in 2022. Sprinkles has also read the book and is asking her questions, while also taking notes.

Marshmallow reviews Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng.
Marshmallow reviews Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow let us start at the beginning. In your reviews, you always start by telling us who this book would be good for. So go ahead.

Marshmallow: This book would be a good choice for readers who enjoy realistic fiction. Or if you are interested in possible near-futures in the United States, especially dystopian ones, this might be the book for you.

S: Okay, I think that is a good start. Can you give us a brief summary of the plot?

M: Sure. So there is this kid whose mother ran away after her poem was used in controversial protests about this law called PACT.

S: Okay, so maybe let us stop there a bit. Tell us about the setting, and of course, PACT.

M: PACT stands for Protecting American Culture and Traditions Act. This law was, in the book, passed about ten years before the story starts. And it essentially allows the government to do things that are supposedly in the interest of preserving American culture. In reality, it is used to take children away from their families, if the families are not “American” enough. In this world, the law specifically targets Asian Americans, due to a fear of China.

S: The author may have been somewhat inspired by the USA PATRIOT Act that was passed after 9/11, and it was very controversial too, because many argue that it cut into people’s civil liberties. This PACT Act was passed after a different but very impactful crisis, right?

M: Yes, and in fact, in the book that crisis was called The Crisis. That left everyone very susceptible to xenophobia, and some people blamed China for all that went wrong, and then of course that distrust of China translated into a distrust of Chinese Americans and then spread all over to a distrust of all Asian Americans. So when the government began to remove children from the homes of some Asian American families, most of the other people remained quiet, believing that there should be a reason for the removal. And most people did not even know how many children were being taken away. The numbers and the full impact of the removals were downplayed by the media, and the families who dared to speak out were demonized.

S: But still there were some protests against the law and these removals, right?

M: Yes, and those are my favorite part of the book actually.

S: So tell us about them.

M: I liked the protests because they were so creative. For example, one involved a bunch of trees which were wrapped up with red yarn and small dolls representing the stolen children. And they were mainly emotional and only subtly political, so people would be more intrigued by them rather than immediately dismiss the message.

S: And that is where the title of the book comes in, right?

M: Yes. The poem that the main character’s mom wrote is called “Our Missing Hearts,” and the protestors took that as their motto, that they wanted their missing hearts to be brought back.

S: Okay, so let us get back to the main character and the plot then.

M: Yes, the main character is a twelve-year-old boy named Bird. Actually his legal name is Noah Gardner, but his mom Margaret Miu always called him Bird, but since she left, people are calling him Noah again. And she left because her poem became too visible with the protests, and Bird’s parents were worried that the government would take Bird away. The mother left so that Bird would at least be able to continue to live with his dad.

S: So the book starts with Bird getting a message which he believes is from his mom.

M: And it is full of cat drawings. And it triggers some memories, Bird is not sure why he knows it is from his mom, but he is sure it is from her. And that part is also very neat. but I cannot say more without spoilers.

S: I guess that is fair. Let us stop with the plot then.

Marshmallow is reading Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng.
Marshmallow is reading Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng.

S: Tell us a bit about the characters.

M: Well, there is Bird, who is the boy who is looking for his mom. And there is Sadie, a half-black girl who was removed from her family because they spoke out against PACT. The law is mainly targeting Asian Americans, but anyone who speaks up against it is also in danger. So Bird meets her at school, where she is sort of an outcast. Sadie is braver than Bird, and she becomes his friend. And then we also meet Bird’s parents. Margaret plays a big role in a large part of the book; she tells her story and we learn about the Crisis a bit more from her. But anyways, Margaret is maybe more timid than Sadie and her parents, and she ran away instead of fighting, but then again, running away meant that maybe her child would be able to stay with his dad, and it could also be seen as a brave sacrifice.

S: Agreed. So did you feel like you connected with these characters? Did you like any of them a lot? Did any of them make you angry or feel something strongly? Did they feel like real people?

M: I think they were all pretty well developed. I thought reading Bird’s perspective felt like I was seeing the world through his eyes, it was a pretty bad place, but anyways, very realistic. And when Margaret told her story, you could also hear her voice very clearly. So I think the author was very successful in creating very compelling and very realistic characters.

S: I agree with you, again. Okay, so I am guessing you liked this book? I certainly did, and that is why I suggested you read it, too.

M: Yea. I really liked it. I’d rate it 100%.

S: That is high praise coming from you, Marshmallow.

M: Yes, I think Our Missing Hearts is a really good book.

S: Okay, so how do we finish this review? What would you like to tell our readers?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow rates Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng 100%.
Marshmallow rates Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng 100%.

3 thoughts on “Marshmallow reviews Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng”

  1. This book fills me with sadness, particularly because I can see how it could so easily happen in our world today.

    As I was reading this passage in the review, “So when the government began to remove children from the homes of some Asian American families, most of the other people remained quiet, believing that there should be a reason for the removal.” A famous quote by Martin Niemöller came to mind, it goes like this:
    “Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a nightmare! Something close to this is happening in Florida, at least the book banning part and marginalizing minorities.

    I do hope this doesn’t become a reality.

    Liked by 1 person

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