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

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil YapaYour Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
on January 12th 2016
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy from IndieBound


In late November 1999, thousands of demonstrators gather to protest rising globalization at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle. Among them, a young traveler named Victor hopes to make money selling marijuana to the protesters and finds himself caught up in the wave of demonstration. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist tells the story of that single afternoon through the eyes of seven different people, including Victor’s estranged father, two police officers working to control the crowds, and a Sri Lankan government official determined to meet with other world leaders.

Chapter-by-chapter multiple perspectives can be a tricky thing, particularly when authors continue to use the technique in unnecessary, even detrimental, ways. Yapa, however, uses his chapters as cameras, allowing the story to circle around a singular event through multiple lenses. The narratives often overlap at crucial points and challenge readers to examine the motives behind seemingly clear decisions.

“A week, a day, an hour—these were units of time no longer within Victor’s ability to contemplate or feel. The day had shrunk to a morning. Then an hour of street battle. Then fifteen minutes of withering brutality.

Noon was like a foreign country.”

Though some of the characters feel a bit muddled—particularly compared to Victor’s vibrancy—Yapa’s gorgeous prose more than makes up for the novel’s slight hiccups. Both intense and eye-opening, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is a fantastic first novel from Sunil Yapa and an incredible start for Little, Brown’s new imprint, Lee Boudreaux Books.


  • Okay, okay, I’m going to have to read it. :) It really sounds good and, after reading your thoughts, I think I’m going to have to give it a shot, Shannon. I’m intrigued by the unique perspective and I’m a sucker for a great debut!

  • This JUST came up for me off hold at the library, but I’m going out of town right after work today, arrghh! I won’t have time to pick it up before. Maybe it’ll still be there when I get back on Monday……

  • Are the shifting perspectives here comparable to how Landfalls worked? (If you can compare the two….)

    • It’s similar in the way that you get to see more than one perspective of an event, but this book takes place over just an afternoon, so the chapters rotate through the characters quickly – the pace is much faster.

  • This book totally worked for me too. Lovely review, as always :) I agree, the quickly shifting perspectives could have been a set up for disaster, but I thought it worked quite well here. My review will go up next week!

    • I loved how quick everything went and the condensed timeline – made for such a fast-paced read that I couldn’t put down.

  • I want to read this book so badly, but it’s on order at the library and I’m in the queue…again. We all know how that worked out for me with Did You Ever Have a Family (3 MONTHS!). Hopefully, it won’t be such a long wait for this one.

  • Ooo, oh, I didn’t realize this was the start of the Lee Boudreaux imprint. Excellent! I will give this a try at least, even though at first blush it doesn’t look like exactly my thing. I do love a new imprint.

    • Yes! There are a few titles coming up for them that I could take or leave, but I’m so excited about this imprint that I will totally read.

  • I’ve been concerned about the multiple narrators, but it makes me feel better that it worked for you. I’m sure this one will find its way to my stacks eventually…especially if the buzz keeps up.

  • I am curious about this one. It’s gotten a lot of good press for sure. Nice review

  • I saw this book and was sure it would be one that lots of bloggers I know would be picking up. It didn’t strike me as something I wanted to read at first, but I do like when books use multiple perspectives the way you describe, so I’m reconsidering :)

  • Pingback: Fiction to Look For in Early 2016 - River City Reading()

  • I’ve picked this up at the library at least three times and I keep putting it back down. I think I was discouraged by the setting, because I know nothing about this WTO event. Now I’m a bit more curious, dammit! ;) I may bring it home next time, but after TOB!

  • Pingback: Best Books of 2016 (So Far) - River City Reading()