Our Missing Hearts
by Celeste Ng
Discussion Questions:
1. The novel takes place in a world that "isn't exactly our world, but it isn't not ours, either," writes Ng in the Author's Note (327). What elements of the novel's setting align with your understanding and experience of the events of the twenty-first century thus far? How close do you think we are to a society like that described in the novel?

2. There are two epigraphs that open the book-one (real) poem by Anna Akhmatova, and one (fictional) excerpt from PACT literature. How does their juxtaposition set up the invitation to compare reality and imagination, and see our present moment through a historical lens as well as the one devised by Ng for the novel?

3. The connection between literature and protest is powerful in the novel-from the proliferation and censorship of Margaret's poetry to the network of librarians caring for the relocated. Why do you think this form of communication is so resilient against forces and events as big as the Crisis and PACT? How does it inspire individuals and groups in the novel to act?

4. Ethan is originally hired at the university as a linguistics professor, and his obsession with words seeps into his daily habits, such as reading from the dictionary: "His father's oldest habit: taking words apart like old clocks to show the gears still ticking inside" (18). How does sharing this love of language help Bird in his quest, and ultimately reconnect their family, albeit indirectly, by the end of the novel?

5. Both Bird and Sadie struggle with missing parents, yet their approach to seeking a deeper understanding of their past is vastly different. What about their personalities guide their respective strategies, and why do you think their friendship is so strong?

6. Margaret and Domi's parting during the Crisis is devastating to them both. Why are they able to restore their friendship once Margaret returns seeking help? What do each of them gain by working together on Margaret's plan, even beyond the emotional healing of their split?

7. Discuss Margaret's transformation when she becomes a mother. How is she able to adapt to so many different circumstances-from her rebellious and resourceful youth to the comfort of her life with Ethan to the purpose driving her life and survival when she goes into hiding? What about Bird's existence makes her willing to sacrifice it all for the children she tries to honor in her final act?

8. Bird's trip to and through New York City to reveals all the ways, big and small, the city had been reshaped by the current, post-Crisis, PACT-enforcing government. Have you ever been to a familiar place that changed radically over time, or after you yourself had changed radically? What was your experience in encountering its newness, or through new eyes?

9. Although Bird dislikes the name his father gives him, Noah, how does it relate to his mother and father's names, which have etymological roots in plants and the natural world? What does it mean for him to reclaim the name his mother called him?

10. What is the special allure of the stacks in the university library for Bird and for Ethan? Do all libraries carry the same quality of discovery and comfort, and have you been to a library that held that "mix of dust and leather and melted vanilla ice cream. Warm, like the scent of someone's skin" (68)?

11. Discuss the chain of events-political, economic, and social-that accumulate in the Crisis and lead to the eventual formation of PACT. What events, from history close and farther in the past, resemble this trajectory, in the United States and abroad? What is common among those chains of events, real and fictional, that reveal tendencies of the human psychology, the need for power and blame, and the fear of the unknown or unfamiliar?

12. We see several events in the novel-such as the moment when Margaret leaves the family home-from two perspectives, Bird's and his mother's. How do these two perspectives shape your understanding of the family dynamic, as well as each of their motives to find each other?

13. Which form of storytelling resonated with you most in the novel, or in life in general: written or oral? How are they each used in ways to preserve the truth of lived experience when history or other dominant powers tried to erase them-such as the missing children, and Margaret herself?



PbrHome - totes, wine bags, pillows for the book lover
More Reading Suggestions
Popular Books
If you have a passion for reading and, like most, have no time to find the right book, browse the most popular books trending right now. They are all page-turners, and they all let you escape from reality.

Popular Book-  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, THE SONG OF ACHILLES is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer's enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously...More


Popular Book-The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this entrancing novel "that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all" (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the...More


Popular The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman's act of violence against her husband-and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Alicia Berenson's life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter...More


Popular Book- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Circe
By Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child-not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for ...More


Popular Book- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren
AFor two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime-maybe even love-in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky ...More


Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
PBR book reviews and Reading guides for book clubs
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Pintrest Follow us on InstaGram
Visit out Etsy Shop
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending
Bookish Gifts- Tote bags, Pillows and more