Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mock Printz 2010: Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels

Title: Heartsinger
Author: Karlijn Stoffels(translated by Laura Watkinson)
Publisher:Arthur A. Levine Books
Starred Review: PW


Heartsinger was originally released, in Dutch, in 2006. It is the story of Mee, the “Singer of Sorrows”. He has the ability to sing someone’s life story and heal their emotional pain but he is unable to heal his own. The story begins with Mee’s childhood as the child of two deaf parents. When his father dies he tries to soothe his mother’s pain but is unable to do so since she cannot hear his song. He soon loses her to her sadness and thereafter begins wandering the countryside unable to cope with his inability to help his mother. As he wanders Mee meets many different people and his song is able to soothe the remaining friends and families as he sings the life story of the one who has passed on. His sadness is at times overwhelming and though we see him surrounded by people he is in fact very much alone.

Born on the same day as Mee, is Mitou, the child of parents who resent each other and ignore her. From them she learns how hurtful words can be but is lucky enough to find that through her music she can make those around her laugh and dance and experience joy. She comes to be known as Mitou the “Merrymaker”. She soon learns about Mee, the Singer of Sorrows, born on the same day and time that she was. Mitou somehow knows that she and Mee belong together and sets out to meet him. The questions then become whether or not she can find him and even if she does can he see past his own grief to realize that the Singer of Sorrows and the Merrymaker belong together?


Heartsinger is an odd little book. At 134 pages one would think that it would be a quick read. However those 134 pages are full of stories some of which don’t connect until the very end of the book. Though it is essentially the story of Mee and Mitou it is also the story of Esperanza the sad princess and Viereg the prince in love. It is the story of the sailor and his wife and also the story of an army captain and all the other characters that Mee meets. Stoffels tells us the story of each one. It can at times be overwhelming and though some stories connect at the end not all do and serve to make the book not confusing necessarily but just a bit more complicated than one would expect from such a short novel. This could be described as a fairy tale with characters that at times seem to have almost magical abilities thought it is not explicitly stated that this is so. This would probably be most appreciated by those who read fairy tales and are looking for a short if not quick read.

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