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

HeartIsAMuscleThe book’s setting is the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle in 1999, and the ensuing violent riots. Prior to the “Battle in Seattle,” 300 peaceful protestors convene to serve as impediments, physically preventing the international delegates from reaching the hotel where the WTO meetings are held. The highly organized protestors have been well trained by a young woman called King who provides one point of view on the riots.

Another perspective is that of the Police Chief Bishop, positioned high above the crowds in a cherry picker.  Overlooking the scene, he is confident that he has the right officers in the correct places to ensure the delegates’ safe passage.  He thinks things are under control, but they are not. Looking at the youthful protesters, he is reminded of his stepson who ran away from home at 16, following his mother’s death.  The two have been out of touch for three years, and Chief misses the teen.

The third point of view belongs to Victor, a young African American who is trying to sell enough pot to the protestors to fund a plane ticket out of the U.S.  Victor is persuaded to join the protestors at the last minute. 

The final point of view comes from Dr. Charles Wickramsinghe, a delegate from Sri Lanka. He is desperate to get the last signature on his petition for Sri Lanka’s entrance to the WTO.

This is a very well told story; blending points of view in a style reminiscent of the works of Colum McCann (Let The Great World Spin, Transatlantic). Although set in 1999, the subject of police brutality remains timely. This novel is a compelling, graphic, page-turner sure to be great for discussion groups. 

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