Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. By Sunil Yapa. (New York, NY: Lee Boudreaux Books/Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group, 2016. 312 pp.)
Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.
This is not a nice book. This is not a pleasant book. But it may be an important one. Parts of it are quite horrific, just plain awful. The descriptions of police brutality will curdle your blood, at least they did mine. This novel tells the story of the protests that accompanied the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle in 1999, and the violent police efforts to clear the streets of what began, at least, as a peaceful demonstration.
Most of the reviews and blurbs I encountered prior to reading the book, tend to focus on one main character, a teen who gets caught up in the protest almost by accident. But the story is actually told from the perspective of several individuals, including two or three of the protesters, several of the cops, including the Chief of Police, who turns out to be the teenager’s father (!), and one of the diplomats, hailing from Sri Lanka, who plans to attend the meetings. We get right inside their heads, and experience what they were thinking and feeling as the events unfold.
The book is well-written–the prose is poetic, even beautiful in many instances. You have to admire the author’s skill and his dedication, and his willingness to tackle a topic of this kind, even if reading it was an effort, and not something I would willingly put myself through again. But for anyone who wants to really experience this important episode in Seattle history, and can tolerate graphic descriptions of violence to get there, it is a powerful read, and one you won’t soon forget.
Available at WSL Northwest Collections, NW 813.6 YAPA 2016
and as a Downloadable talking book at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library.