Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels translated by Laura Watkinson (January 1st 2009)
Grade: 3 stars out of 5
Summary: "Mee was born with a great gift: the ability to sing other people's stories and heal their pain. But Smee also carries his own pain -- his failure to reach his deaf mother and heal her grief at his father's death. As he travels the country, he eases many people's sorrows, but he cannot connect with anyone himself.
Mitou also has a gift: spreading joy through a few notes from her accordion. When she hears about Mee--who was born on the same day she was--she knows that surely they belong together, each of them helping others through their music.
They finally meet on the way to the king's castle to sing for the beautiful Princess Esperanza. But will Mitou's hopes be fulfilled--or is the pain of the past too great?"
Review: This book is written in short, simple, but powerful sentences. Think Ernest Hemingway and “The Old Man and the Sea,” filled with symbolism and emotion packed imagery. It reminds me of a Disney-esque type of movie with its setting, characters and ending, but with a much darker and brooder type of feel.
Each chapter is a tale of its own. They tell of the people that Mee and Mitou come across. Of a lieutenant that died in a well with his flute grasped in his hands to a sailor whose sweetheart waited for him day by day. There’s about 6 different tales but there are many more sub-stories connected to each person. It gives the reader great background information about the characters that the author presents which I love since I’m all for the small little details!
I love the irony of the characters as well! Mee who was born from deaf parents lived a childhood that filled with merriment and love became the singer of sorrows. Mitou was born from a set of parents who loathed one another became the merrymaker. Forced into marriage by her wealthy and take-no-for-an-answer father, she grew up in an environment filled with abusive words and hate.
There are some lines that I adore from the book. Almost the entire book is less than happy but some quotes had me chuckling. One very powerful line that I love was from Mee, “A man who cannot make his own mother happy does not deserve to enjoy himself.” It might not be as strong out of context but after reading his life background it’s so emotionally powerful.
Oh the ending! It was slightly odd and out of the blue but can be a great example of how opposites attract. Of course, this plays a great part with the happily ever after, well as much as you can from this novel. *spoiler* And yes, it was indeed Mee that fell in love with Mitou. Like yin and yang almost *spoiler*
There was also a part in the story had me irritated but I won't dwell on that. Unless you guys want me to...?
And kudos to the translator who did such an amazing job! They can either make or break a book.
Overall: While it was hard to get started eventually I fell in love with this story! Definitely try this book out, it’s only 134 pages!
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