Monday, January 30, 2012


Title:  Heartbroken
Author:  Lisa Unger
Publication Information:  Crown Publishers, Random House Inc. 2012. 367 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book as an advance uncorrected proof from the publisher.

Favorite Quote:  "In caring for her children, anything that she was afraid of, or any shortfall she had, simply became irrelevant. She would be what she had to be, do what she had to do, to get them through any crisis, large or small."

Heartbroken is part thriller and mostly a family story, particularly focusing on the relationships between mothers and daughters. There is Birdie - the family matriarch - who is still dealing with the childhood memories of her mother and who is driving her family away with her own actions. There is Kate - the "good" daughter and mother - who attempts to understand her own mother based on the journals of her aunt and her grandmother and then writes a book based on those journals. There is Emily - a daughter seeking to find her place in the world.

The place is Heart Island - what should be a beautiful sanctuary in the Adirondacks. It's been owned by the family for generations. To some, it represents a safe harbor and home. To some, it is a harsh place to be escaped.

The intrigue in the book comes from two places. First is a long ago love affair and the brooding main character of that love. A love that continues to impact people now long after the lovers are gone. Second is the men brought low by drugs and crime who are seeking money and jewels and who will use anyone and any means to get it. It all comes to a dramatic conclusion one night on Heart Island.

The mix of family story and thriller was an interesting one to read. The relationships between mothers and daughters were developed as the book progressed. Details emerged allowing the reader greater understanding of each of the characters. The "bad guys" stayed the bad guys and moved through the book bringing with them drama and a climax.

This is the first book I have read by Lisa Unger. I am not sure what her readers expect. More thriller and suspense or more character and family? Overall, I found it an enjoyable book.

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