In Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts (10 hours), 12-year-old Bird Gardner lives in a dystopian near-future in which the United States exists under the Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act (PACT), a mandate that claims to uphold patriotism by banning books, relocating children and condemning anything “un-American,” especially regarding Asian culture. But when Bird receives a letter from his missing mother, a Chinese American poet who protested PACT, he is thrown into an adventure to discover his heritage, his past and his family.
Actor Lucy Liu’s narration achieves a balance between the novel’s larger political story and the intimate inner worlds of Ng’s characters. Liu’s voice is calm and steady but also follows the book’s highs and lows, matching Ng’s lyrical prose to bring out the story’s emotion, mystery and heartbreak.
In this novel of family bonds tested by sociopolitical horrors, Ng’s writing and Liu’s narration collaborate to demonstrate how resistance need not always be loud; it can also be powerful in small, quiet, personal ways.