This review is subject to my disclosure notes, which you can find here.
I’m always a little nervous to read books that are strongly character-focused, because I’m a judgmental person by nature, and when I don’t like one of the characters, it can spoil the whole book for me. I had no reservations, though, about reading HEARTBROKEN, because simply put, Lisa Unger is an author whose books I’ve recommended to so many people that I’ve lost count, and every single person has loved them.
She is, in a word, a consummate storyteller. She has the gift.
I’ve read a fair bit about HEARTBROKEN, and many of the descriptions of the book refer to the three primary characters—Birdie, Kate and Emily—being on a “collision course.” I didn’t really see it that way so much as I felt like I was following each of them on their individual journeys, aspects of which intersect. A subtle difference, but an important one, I think.
This is not a book of which it’s easy to give you a quick plot summary, because the reality is that it contains a bunch of stories that are interconnected in ways that evolve as the tale progresses. It opens in a striking fashion, though, introducing us to Birdie Burke, a cantankerous old broad whom you will likely be surprised to find you have more compassion for than her surface actions seem to warrant.
But that’s the magic of HEARTBROKEN. If I had to pick one topic it’s about, I’d choose interconnectedness (that’s a word, right?). We’re all tied to one another, often in ways we don’t see until we’re in dramatic situations.
And speaking of drama… HEARTBROKEN is called a thriller for good reason. The action that surrounds the characters moves, and moves fast. Because we care immediately and deeply for each of the three women at the heart of the story—as well as those around them—it’s hard to turn the pages fast enough to find out both what happens to them and also how each is going to handle her or his next choice.
Have I mentioned choices? They’re also at the core of HEARTBROKEN. Why and how we make them, and the impact these choices have in ways we might never imagine. This was especially noteworthy to me because I expend great energy bemoaning the lack of consideration of the impact of choices in modern society. HEARTBROKEN is far from preachy (very far), but it contains strong lessons regardless.
You’ve noticed by now that I’m nothing if not a Lisa Unger fangirl. Guilty. But here’s the thing: HEARTBROKEN is different from her previous books, in ways that make me only more grateful that she is telling readers stories. Reading it, I felt like I was being led through a maze, and sometimes I wasn’t sure we’d make it out, me and these characters I cared so deeply about. It was an amazing journey, and one I suggest you take without delay.
Author’s website: www.lisaunger.com
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