Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey
Penguin Random House Group: 8/21/18
eBook review copy; 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9780525511731

Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey is a highly recommended, quirky, unique character driven novel that is part dystopian, part alternate reality.

The territory is an isolated cult/settlement that was founded in the north decades ago. In the territory is it 1985, including the music, TV shows, listening to Walkmans, album covers, shoulder pads, track suits, and more. The narrative is told in three parts from the point-of-view of three different characters: the girl, the dog, and the boy.

The girl is fifteen-year-old Pony Darlene Fontaine. Pony is our first introduction to the territory and the one who begins the story of her mother, Billie Jean Fontaine, who has taken the truck and left her family. Billie Jean arrived in the territory seventeen years earlier, married The Heavy, Pony's father, and tried to fit in with the townspeople who never totally accepted her. Now the town is helping to search for her, but never beyond their own borders. Pony is an excellent character who is examining her circumstances, her mother's life, and has a plan. She is also the one who introduces us to a sinister way the territory makes money.

The dog is the Fontaines' and brings a unique perspective and keen observations to the story about Billie Jean, the community, and all the characters, while furthering the narrative thread. The boy, named Supernatural, adds additional information and completes the story, allowing a complete picture to emerge.

Telling the story only through the first person perspective of these three characters and what they know is utterly extraordinary. I was uncertain about Heartbreaker for almost half the novel and then the story began to emerge and take shape. It increasingly became a compelling, fascinating look at a community, setting aside their isolation and the peculiar features of the cult, through the eyes of three very different, unique characters.

The ending was the clincher and increased my assessment of the whole novel. I also keep thinking about the novel based on the ending and want to re-read it someday to catch information and clues I might have missed.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House Group.

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