When Things Are Alive They Hum
A heartbreaking and joyous work of wonder about the hum that connects us all
Marlowe and Harper share a bond deeper than most sisters, shaped by the loss of their mother in childhood. For Harper, living with what she calls the Up syndrome and gifted with an endless capacity for wonder, Marlowe and she are connected by an invisible thread, like the hum that connects all things. For Marlowe, they are bound by her fierce determination to keep Harper, born with a congenital heart disorder, alive.
Now 25, Marlowe is finally living her own life abroad, pursuing her studies of a rare species of butterfly secure in the knowledge Harper’s happiness is complete, having found love with boyfriend, Louis. But then she receives the devastating call that Harper’s heart is failing. She needs a heart transplant but is denied one by the medical establishment because she is living with a disability. Marlowe rushes to her childhood home in Hong Kong to be by Harper’s side and soon has to answer the question – what lengths would you go to save your sister?
When Things Are Alive They Hum poses profound questions about the nature of love and existence, the ways grief changes us, and how we confront the hand fate has dealt us. Intensely moving, exquisitely written and literally humming with wonder, it is a novel that celebrates life in all its guises, and what comes after.
‘When literature is alive it hums, and rattles and warms and hurts and heals. Hannah Bent and her wondrous Harper and Marlowe have changed the way I’ve been going about my days. What a gift.’
Trent Dalton, author of Boy Swallows Universe and All Our Shimmering Skies
'One of the most captivating and memorable books I’ve read in a long time. Brave, tender and heartfelt, I foresee cheese platters stripped down to the last cracker as bookclubs reflect on this beautiful and thought-provoking novel.'
Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village
‘Hannah Bent’s novel is compelling and tender, powerfully placing the reader in the heart and the mind of two sisters with contrasting expectations of life, and the imperatives of love. At times this pulls them in dangerously different directions but ultimately their ability to honour the essence of each other reminds us that in doing so, life-giving expansion is possible even when life itself may be diminishing.’
Suzanne Daniel, author of Allegra in Three Parts
About the author
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hannah Bent completed her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Film from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London. She undertook further study in both directing and screenwriting at the Australian Film and Television and Radio School and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. She was the 2013 recipient of the Ray Koppe Young Writers Award for her novel as a work in progress.