Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size Of A Fist is the debut novel from Sunil Yapa which was published in 2016 and has been on my TBR for a long time now! It was a book I had heard a lot of great things about at the time which is based around events I wasn’t too familiar with so this was a story I was keen to read.
The events in this novel take place in 1999 in Seattle during the World Trade Organisation Protests. And over the course of this story, we get a glimpse of events as they unfold from the perspectives of seven different characters from different walks of life. One of these individuals is Victor, a teenager who has become homeless following a family tragedy, and finds himself amongst further chaos when he gets caught up in one of the largest, most alarming protests in the history of Western democracy. But in addition to finding himself in such a frightening situation, there is the risk that he will cross paths with his father from whom he has become estranged, as his father has a key role to play as he leads the police force during the riots. Alongside this story of a father and son torn apart, we also hear the stories of others affected by protests, including the protestors themselves, as well as police officers, and a delegate who is making his way through the crowds to a meeting. And each of these characters has their own story to tell, and some difficult memories from past mistakes. I was intrigued to see how events would unfold, and to learn more about the individual characters, their lives before and during a time of unrest.
From the opening pages this story held my interest, as I first met a young man struggling to find purpose in a complicated world, as he wonders into something even more complicated. As events at the protests quickly spiral out of control, protestors make their feelings known, and the police force struggle to maintain control over the crowds. There is a tension to the writing, and a feeling of unease as the violence develops and the plot is fast paced. Given the nature of the story, there were of course some detailed descriptions of the conflict, which capture the severity of the violence which took place during the protests. That said there were also some beautifully written, lyrical passages of writing. Through the events of the protests, we see the world through the eyes of seven different people, not only the chaos that unfolds around them, but also the questions they ask of themselves, and their own lives. This is a story of rage, but also one of love, and the relationships between the characters, as they contemplate the mistakes and memories of their past, and how to move forward.
Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size Of A Fist was an interesting read and one in which I discovered more about an event in history which I was previously unaware of. And through this we are presented with a very human story, with the complexity of life, love, and politics playing out against a backdrop of violence.