by YE Zhaoyan
Our Hearts Are So Stubborn is a novel about a generation of educated youths. Their lives have been realistically reconstructed through the imagination and writing of Zhaoyan Ye. Previous books about this generation of educated youths have been closely related to the “grand narrative” that is studied in schools today as history. From birth, this generation was tasked with assuming the burden of history and making that “grand narrative” a reality. Of course in reality, that narrative was more often than not a fabrication, even if it did have a small correlation with these youths’ lives. In this book, Zhaoyan Ye explains the real history of this generation. The main characters of the novel are Xuemin Cai, the fourth son in his family, later called the “fourth elder”, and his current lover—soon to be wife—Liyan Xue. They are attracted to each other from the beginning of the story, and eventually their lives are bound tightly together by their romantic affair. Their physical relationship has very little to do with the undying love and honesty that drives the plots of traditional love stories, and more to do with the unrestrained hopes and dreams that people have, as well as the wanton indulgence of one’s desires. Even though the story takes place during an era when the education of the youth was strongly emphasized and little self-indulgence was tolerated, the blossoming of these two young students’ love cannot be restrained.