Have you ever listened to your heartbeat or that of your beloved? Are you more comfortable with the type of dream and the emotions it evokes?

“The island of heartbeats” is an engaging novel by Laura Imai Messina, published at the end of 2022 in many languages, but it is also a real and remote place, Teshima, located in southwest Japan, where the Museum is located which preserves the Archive with recordings of the heartbeats of thousands of people from all over the world. It is the story of Shuichi’s return to his childhood place soon after his mother’s death. From there the reconstruction of his existence begins, and a sort of re-reading of his intense life begins with the maturity of forty years. If you had a second chance, what would it be?

“To be happy, you must first imagine that you are happy.”

Laura Imai Messina

The oriental perfume appears delicate from the first words. Leaving the page of this romance, one suddenly immerses oneself in a poetic and intimate dimension. All places, people, and languages ​​speak of Japan and are the living representation of its spirit. It is a sort of journey, from which we have a lot to learn, which tells us in a different dimension than the western one, where we will discover a different way of conceiving life and its upheavals. As the events told and the characters described flow, the fog that initially envelops them clears. The unveiling is measured and touching, I would say almost enveloping. If it speaks of mourning, it does not name them explicitly but does not demonize them. Also, the loss is part of his life and from this page, we learned how to interpret the present to reciprocate the lost congratulations. Storytelling does well to reveal the story before it. It is a return to the beginning, or to the origins, but with greater awareness.

The tidying up of the mother’s house coincides with the tidying up of her soul. And there are a lot of things to fix. The new relationships with childhood, Kenta, a child with a profound charm who dated his mother, and Sayaka, an unexpected new acquaintance, are the emblem of his current life. It seems to witness the unraveling of roads to be discovered, such as the stories related to the fascinating kanji, the characters of the Japanese language, and the different sounds of the heartbeat in Japanese. Stories within stories, which lead us deeper and deeper.“What would help me now instead, the only thing that could make me feel better now, is knowing that I can get out of a moment like this, if only because I’ve already got out of it in the past.”The island of heartbeats becomes the final destination. The external journey ends up coinciding with the internal one. The puzzle comes together again, everything becomes clearer, full of meaning and hope.

Laura Imai Messina

This novel, the last of the esteemed Italian author and university teacher, who has been transplanted to Japan for many years with her Japanese husband and children, is the result of extensive research on the heart. Those who like to experience a different culture will find great satisfaction here. Those who are in the middle of their life’s journey, after taking heavy losses and only realizing part of their projects, will witness the evolution of the protagonist, who will become an inspiring example of rebirth and confidence. And as the author says at the end of the novel: “Failure should not become an excuse”. Enjoy the reading!

Laura Imai Messina presents “The island of heartbeats”

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