03 February 2014

A Well Tempered Heart

A Well Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker

This post was inspired by the novel A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker.  Feeling lost and burned out, Julia drops her well paying job at a NYC law firm. After hearing a stranger’s voice in her head, she travels to Burma to find the voice’s story and hopefully herself as well. Join From Left to Write on February 4 we discuss A Well-Tempered Heart. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

I read the prequel to this book, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, and fell in love with the author's writing and his powers of description that transport me to the sights, sounds and smells of Burma, so I was very excited for the opportunity to read this next book that continues the story.

What struck me about this novel was Julia's willingness to literally go to the ends of the earth to solve the mystery that had sort of taken over her life in a very real way, and the question that I kept coming back to was, would I walk away from the familiar, from my life and my home, to find the answers?

In my post on the other book in this series, I wrote about the idea of home.  And home continues to figure in to this story as well, at least it does for me. Maybe that says something about me :)
Julia seems to be adrift at the outset of the story, and the stranger's voice she hears in her head hones right in on that, alternating between issuing warnings about her colleagues at work and whether she can trust them, and asking some very pointed and uncomfortable questions.  Without giving away too much of the rest of the story, Julia goes to great lengths to unravel the mystery of the stranger's voice and has reasons to contemplate what and where her home is, where she feels at home, and with whom she feels at home.

I moved away from my childhood home, the city where I grew up, when a relationship showed signs of becoming serious.  My boyfriend at the time, who eventually became my husband, lived in a city about and an hour and a half away from me, and we did the long distance thing for a while.  It was okay, it worked out, but both of us wanted more.  He was unwilling to move because he was divorced and his kids were still young, so he didn't want to move any further away and possibly spend even less time with them, so it was really up to me to move, if one of us was going to.

So I did.

It all worked out fine: I moved toward him, we got married, had three kids, and have happily bloomed where we were planted. But not without some growing pains, mostly on my part.  I didn't move so very far away, but I always considered where I grew up to be "home." Where we lived was where we lived, but it was not home.

Only recently has that begun to change.  When I go back to my childhood home, the city has changed.  I don't know it so well anymore.  New stores, new neighborhoods, new schools, new people, new highway layout.  I don't know where I am anymore, when I'm in that city, where all of my family still lives.

We were discussing the possibility of moving for Captain America's job a while ago, and we asked the kids how they would like to live in Columbus, where Mom grew up and where lots of aunts, uncles and cousins live?  They immediately howled, "NOOOO!  We'd miss our friends and our school and our house!" And that was that. Thankfully the need to move never materialized and the discussion was moot.

But it planted a seed in my mind, and I began thinking of Columbus less and less as "home."  I began seeing where I live now, small town USA, as my home.  I have wonderful friends, a lovely community of people with whom I share my faith, my children, and my life.  We're halfway done paying our house off.  I've now officially lived away from Columbus longer than I lived there. And my desire to go home has finally disappeared, mostly because I have realized that I already am home.

What does "home" mean to you?