Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist takes place over one life altering afternoon in Seattle during the World Trade Organization protests. Shifting perspective from protesters, to police officers, to even a Sri Lankan financial minister, the story’s characters intertwine in unexpected & meaningful ways. Picture Vantage Point, but without Dennis Quaid, & if it were actually ridiculously good.

Damn, I loved this book. & so, it seems, does everybody else. When I picked up the vibrant yellow hardcover in the bookstore, I had at least three people tell me how great it was, one of whom told me that he read it in one sitting & physically did not get up, even to pee. Now, I think this was an exaggeration, it wasn’t that life altering, but it was still better than my expectations. This could possibly be because I’m a cynic, not that versed on the WTO protests, or because I like stories that take place throughout the course of a day. But it’s most likely because Yapa is a good writer & has done his research (which he recommends to you in the Acknowledgements).

The prose gets a little wordy at times, & not always in that beautiful sing-song way. The characters are also a bit one note, but I wouldn’t say they’re entirely flat. However, the book has tremendous heart. It has feel good vibes & empathetic intelligence, something lacking in a lot of popular literature today. It places ideologies & mass opinions into a fictional story that unfolds almost like a theater play, though nothing in the style indicates a script. But it leaves the reader with the same feeling, that somebody compiled a scenario for you to visualize how these different points of view would clash or react to each other.

There’s a second major conflict at play between Victor & his father, two of the main perspectives. In the balance between the large political protest’s conflict & this familial one, neither ever outshines the other. Yapa is skilled at juggling multiple people, themes, and storylines at once so that they link smoothly.

It’s been compared to The Flamethrowers and the award-winning Let the Great World Spin. I think it would be enjoyable for anybody who may want to read more about the WTO protests or activism in general, but needs a bit of an introduction into that sphere. I’d also recommend it to anybody who would want to read an emotional account between a father & son relationship.

“Dad, there are people who work all day every day for thirty years assembling the three wires that make a microwave timer beep. What are we supposed to think of this? How do they survive it? Why do we ask them to?”

“There where they learned that courage is not the ability to face your fear, heroically, once, but is the strength to do it day after day. Night after night. Faith without end. Love without border.”

The Open Your Heart painting I did was modeled after the Protect Your Heart graffiti that can be found around NYC by UncuttArt. However, I thought it matched the story well & kind of matches the paperback cover a little.

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