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Heartbroken

Cover of Heartbroken

Heartbroken

A Novel

Long after anyone expected Kate to do anything with her life, she did. Using the journals left behind by her aunt and grandmother, she wrote a novel based on a very real, generation-old love story that ended in tragedy. On the other side of town, Emily is about to set fire to her life. She's in a dead-end job and is involved with the wrong man; she can feel herself being drawn into darkness, with horrific consequences. With nowhere to go, she finds herself on the run. Without knowing each other, and with lives that couldn't be more different, Kate and Emily head to the same point on the map: Heart Island, an idyllic place in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks, owned for generations by Birdie Burke's family. The harsh and unyielding Birdie is at one with this island, which has a terrifying history all its own. She, too, has consequences to face.

Heartbroken is a tense, mesmerizing novel about the limits of dysfunctional families, of an island haunted by dark memories and restless ghosts, and of the all-too-real demons we must battle.

Long after anyone expected Kate to do anything with her life, she did. Using the journals left behind by her aunt and grandmother, she wrote a novel based on a very real, generation-old love story that ended in tragedy. On the other side of town, Emily is about to set fire to her life. She's in a dead-end job and is involved with the wrong man; she can feel herself being drawn into darkness, with horrific consequences. With nowhere to go, she finds herself on the run. Without knowing each other, and with lives that couldn't be more different, Kate and Emily head to the same point on the map: Heart Island, an idyllic place in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks, owned for generations by Birdie Burke's family. The harsh and unyielding Birdie is at one with this island, which has a terrifying history all its own. She, too, has consequences to face.

Heartbroken is a tense, mesmerizing novel about the limits of dysfunctional families, of an island haunted by dark memories and restless ghosts, and of the all-too-real demons we must battle.

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  • From the book

    chapter one The Blue Hen was bustling, and Emily had screwed up in at least three different ways since her shift began. She'd given one customer the wrong change. She'd given another the wrong order. And now, as some little kid ran out of the bathroom without looking, cutting her off as she moved down the narrow hallway from the kitchen to the dining area, she felt the tray of ice waters slipping from her hands. She'd stopped short to avoid a collision, but the glasses and the tray had not.

    She watched the boy dart down the hallway, but everything else was in torturous slow motion. Four glass tumblers sailed though the air, water pluming, ice cubes suspended. The word "no" pulled and elongated in her mind. And then—­the shattering crash. She backed away from the shimmering, slicing mess and stared at it. Oh, God. Oh, no. Why did some days start out bad and just get worse?

    Angelo from the kitchen rushed out to help. He had a mop in one hand and a bucket in the other like some kind of diner rescue worker. Then Carol, the owner of the Blue Hen, came around the corner. "What happened?" she asked.

    "I dropped it," said Emily. Obviously. She wasn't going to bother getting into it about the kid. And how the bathroom door shouldn't open outward into the hallway. Or how people needed to heed the sign that read: Please open the door and exit slowly. Carol looked at the mess and put a plump, beautifully manicured hand to her forehead. Emily couldn't help but look at her rings—­a big diamond engagement ring and a ruby "family" ring, as Carol had called it. They glittered like stars.

    "Let Angelo get it. The order for your four-­top is up. You fetch that, and I'll get more ice water," Carol said. Her tone was weary but not unkind. Carol was never that. "Try to pull yourself together, Emily. I don't know what you have on your mind today. But it is definitely not your work."

    Emily nodded. "I'm sorry."

    Carol looked at Emily over the rim of her glasses. She had a nice face, round and pink-­cheeked, with pretty, darkly lashed blue eyes. Her body was short and soft—­a mother's body. Carol was, in fact, a bit henlike, Emily thought, zaftig and proud, strutting about clucking. Emily wanted to put her head in Carol's lap and cry her a river.

    "So, what is it, hon?" said Carol. "You need to talk?"

    "No," said Emily. She tried for a smile. "I'm fine."

    Angelo was already on his knees, picking up big shards of glass with calloused hands.

    "I'm sorry, Angelo," said Emily.

    He looked up at her with his dark puppy-­dog eyes, big, devoted, and a little lovesick. "Don't worry about it," he said.

    Angelo had a crush on Emily; she knew that. He gave her a wide grin, as though he liked being down on his knees for her. She felt a hot blush spread across her cheeks, and then she was chasing after Carol, who was talking to her. Carol had a fast, soft, but no-­nonsense way of communicating. She didn't care if you participated, only that you appeared to be listening.

    "When you get orders wrong, especially for someone like Barney, who comes here every single day at the same time for the same meal, it makes people feel like we don't know them, don't care about them. And if you work at T.G.I. Friday's or Chili's, maybe that doesn't matter so much. But here, at my restaurant, it matters—­because it's precisely that kind of personal interaction that separates the chains from the independents. Also, when you give people the wrong change, it makes us seem either untrustworthy or incompetent. Do you understand that, Emily?" Emily knew this wasn't an invitation to chime in. Carol went...
About the Author-
  • LISA UNGER is an award-winning New York Times and internationally bestselling author. Her novels have sold more than one million copies in the United States and have been translated into twenty-six languages.

Reviews-
  • People (3 ½ stars)

    "Stellar. . . . Heartbroken should be on everyone's summer to-read list. For best results, read it alone on an island on a dark and stormy night." --USA Today (4 stars)

    "Heartbroken has all the makings of a high-wire thriller. But it's the twisted psyches of its main characters that really unsettle. . . . Unger expertly shows how quiet betrayals can rupture a life as deeply as an act of violence."

  • Tampa Bay Times "A can't-put-down thriller interlaced with insightful family drama and echoes of Wuthering Heights." --Family Circle

    "Lisa Unger is one of the few women to first break into the genre of thrillers, then to dominate it." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

    "Lisa Unger masterfully writes of the joys and frustrations of family life in her latest novel. . . . What makes [it] shine is the struggle of multidimensional characters with issues that all of us face but sometimes don't want to acknowledge." --Associated Press

    "Suspenseful. . . . An intense psychological thriller that explores a family with complex relationships, destructive secrets and uneasy legacies. . . . [Unger] keeps the tension high as she delves deep into each woman's psyche, showing how the smallest decision can have far-reaching consequences." --South Florida Sun Sentinel

    "[An] insidious psychological thriller. Set, quite appropriately, on a claustrophobic island." --Chicago Tribune

    "A superb stylist. . . . [Unger] probes the psychological dimensions of her characters with tremendous empathy and acumen. . . . Readers will be haunted for a long time by this profound and heart-pounding thriller." --Florida Weekly

    "[Lisa Unger is] a genuinely formidable voice in the world of dark thrillers, taking a back seat to no one. When [she] hits the ground, she does so at a full out sprint and leaves the reader breathless trying to keep up." --Examiner

    "Just in time to chill readers to the bone on some steamy summer night... Unger creates complex, believable family relationships, especially those between mothers and daughters, and uses those familiar scenes to anchor and contrast the creeping dread of her plot."

  • Kirkus "This page-turner is multi-layered and intriguing, as master storyteller Lisa Unger weaves a compelling plotline." --Bookreporter.com

    "Unger delivers compelling, fully drawn characters while at the same time putting the thrill in thriller. A first-class page-turner." --Booklist (starred review)

    "[A] tense psychological thriller. . . . Unger skillfully builds the fissures of each of [her characters'] lives as she illustrates the power of the heart and the corrosive nature of lies." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "Will captivate fans of mystery and psychological suspense. This is one of Unger's best novels yet." --Library Journal (starred review)

    "A triumvirate of strong women pitted against a shared past and dangerous future. . . . Unger knows how to write a taut thriller."

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Heartbroken
Heartbroken
A Novel
Lisa Unger
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