Number one New York Times bestselling author Celeste Ng just announced her next book, Our Missing Hearts (Penguin Press), and Oprah Daily has the exclusive cover reveal.
Ng, whose second novel was made into a hit Hulu series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington (and was selected for Reese’s Book Club) had this to say about the new work, which will be published in October of this year:
“Our Missing Hearts is about a mother and child caught in a bleak time, but it’s also a story of how human connection—and love—can help us survive when everything seems dark. I love that this cover, by Hannah Wood, suggests hope rising from the shadows: Even when it seems like the world is falling apart, sometimes new things take flight. It’s a message many of us need right now, and one I hope the novel conveys.”
The book—Ng's third—was acquired by Penguin Press executive editor Ginny Smith Younce from agent Julie Barer at The Book Group. Smith Younce told us: “It is an honor to be publishing Celeste’s brilliant third novel. Our Missing Hearts is a timeless depiction of motherhood and of adolescence, but Celeste has set this stunning portrait of a family in the midst of a society that has been consumed by racism, by authoritarianism, and by fear. I love that this cover conveys simultaneously both that darkness and a call to move toward the light. As only she can, Celeste has crafted an unforgettable and shattering commentary on this moment.”
Like her previous novel, Our Missing Hearts takes up the cause of the outsider pitted against a system and society in which injustice is the norm, even if unacknowledged. Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in Harvard’s library. Ng’s protagonist has learned not to stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence, including permitting authorities to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin. Echoing what is transpiring now all over the U.S., libraries are being forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was 9.
Though Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems, when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is drawn into a quest to find her.
Smith Younce describes the novel this way: “Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact."
Celeste Ng is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been published in over 30 languages.