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Map of the Human Heart (1993), #95 out of 100

January 11, 2012


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A world-spanning adventure of a single man’s lifetime of romance and war, ecstasy and turmoil, and optimism and defeat, is initially led by curiosity and happenstance, but becomes a life led by his own pursuit of true love. Avik, a young curious Inuit, meets a UK cartographer who takes him away from home due to his health concern. Avik then lives in a Catholic hospice of children and meets the young half-Indian Albertine. Initially turbulent, they bond over their racial disconnect from the other children, though even early on find differences in the ways they relate to their races. Albertine, shamed by her Indian mother, yearns for her white father to return. Avik, however, is abandoned more by his Inuit past after his experience in the UK, forcing him to return by joining the UK forces in WWII as a pilot, finding out that the cartographer and Albertine work in the air force as well. However, Albertine, hoping to be accepted into white society, is in a relationship with the cartographer, and Avik, a clear Inuit, has to struggle to win her heart over.

A love triangle that is conflicted with wartime, the history of loyalties between all three, and Albertine and Avik’s racial angst, their romantic struggle is enflamed by their exploration of the world and its spirit, having to judge for themselves whether it supports true love or the spiteful war that the cartographer admits to supporting to a disturbingly personal degree. Maps and navigation play a particularly strong theme in their troubles, and at one low point Avik laments “It’s all there in the maps, sometimes all they tell you is that you’re lost.” But for a man who leads himself through life by his heart rather than geography, Avik finds both the desperate sadness and beauty in a struggle for love.

From → Top 100

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