Heartbroken

Heartbroken

by Lisa Unger

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Overview

Kate has written a novel based on a tragic love story from her family’s past. Emily is a struggling waitress whose toxic relationship with the wrong man has led her to make a horrible, life-altering decision. Without knowing each other, and with lives that couldn’t be more different, they head to the same point on the map: Heart Island.  It’s an idyllic place in the middle of an Adirondack lake, and home to harsh and unyielding matriarch Birdie Burke. These three women find themselves on a heart-wrenching collision course—with dark memories, restless ghosts and each other.  And unbeknownst to them all,  Heart Island has a terrifying history all its own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345806079
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/25/2013
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 290,886
Product dimensions: 4.42(w) x 6.74(h) x 1.34(d)

About the Author

Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and international bestselling author.  Her novels have sold over one million copies in the United States and have been translated into twenty-six different languages.

Read an Excerpt

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 on.

“Now, dropping things? Well, it happens. But it usually happens when we’re not present. You’re all flustered from a morning of mistakes. So I want you to take a few minutes, after you bring the food to your four-­top, and go out back and take a break. I’ll cover your tables. Then come on back in like it’s a brand-­new day, okay?”

Emily found herself nodding vigorously, then running the four-­top order over to the family by the window. Pancakes for the girl, French toast for the boy, an egg-­white scramble with broccoli for the mom, and a chili-­cheese omelet with home fries and an extra side of bacon for the dad (boy, did he ever get a look from Mom over the menu when he ordered that). He looked like he could afford to take off a few, but not in an unhealthy, worrisome way. He was just a beefy guy who liked to eat. He probably had high cholesterol; that’s why his wife had that kind of angry-­worried look on her face when Emily placed the plate in front of him.

“Wow,” the mom said. “That looks good.” But what she meant was: Oh, honey, are you really going to eat that? At least that’s what Emily thought. She was good at that, reading faces, body language. She felt like, a lot of the time, she knew what people were thinking even when they were saying something else altogether. She’d always been that way.

After she ran a bottle of ketchup over to the table, she went out back like Carol had asked her to. She sat on the bench where everyone went for a smoke break, and looked up into the sky. The day was warm and humid, clouds high and white. A light breeze made the leaves of the tall oaks that towered above the parking-­lot fence dance and hiss. She took a deep breath, trying to shake it off, like Carol wanted.

Why do you want to go to that place and run around for that stu- pid cow?

That’s what Dean had said to her this morning. He hadn’t wanted her to go to work. He’d wanted her to stay with him. He didn’t like Carol. Dean didn’t seem to like anyone Emily liked. She wasn’t sure what that said about him.

“You’ll make more in a morning with me than you will in a week at the Fat Hen.”

“The Blue Hen.”

“Whatever,” he said. He’d lit a cigarette even though he knew the smell made her sick in the morning. “You don’t need to run around like that.”

He didn’t like the idea of her waitressing. His mother was a waitress, and Dean didn’t like Emily to do anything that reminded him of his mother.

“It’s low-­class work,” he said.

Emily didn’t think any honest work was “low-­class,” whatever that meant coming from Dean. Carol treated her with respect. The customers, maybe because the Blue Hen was not the cheapest restaurant in town, were mostly polite. They tipped well. And usually, Emily was not half bad at the whole waitress thing. She liked talking to people, being friendly, and chitchatting about this and that with the regulars. Carol always made sure Emily had a meal before or after her shift and told everyone to help themselves to coffee and hot chocolate. The Blue Hen was the nicest place Emily had ever worked.

Dean was mad at her when she left. That was why she’d shown up to work all shaky and upset. Well, one of the reasons, anyway. She didn’t like it when he was mad, but if she didn’t go to work and bring in a regular paycheck, they didn’t always make it week to week. Then she’d have to borrow from her mother—­which she couldn’t do right now. And that was a whole other set of problems.

It was true that Dean could make a lot of money. But he didn’t always, and somehow it seemed to be gone as quickly as it came in. Then, of course, there were the times when Dean disappeared for days. Once for a week. She hadn’t expected him to come back that time. She wasn’t as happy as she thought she’d be when he finally did come home.

“Feeling better?”

Angelo had come to stand beside her. She looked up at him, and he smiled shyly, turned his eyes toward the sky. He was always sweet to her, and she felt an odd desire to slip her hand into his. He smelled like the lemon soap he used to clean the dishes.

“Thanks for cleaning up my mess,” she said. She folded her hands in her lap.

“No problem.”

She sensed that he was about to say more but changed his mind. He’d asked her out a couple of times. She told him she was living with someone. He’d given up asking, but he still smiled at her a lot, hopeful. She’d expected him to get angry or mean when she turned him down, but he didn’t. He was just as kind to her as he always had been. For some reason, that made her think that he had a nice mom, someone who had taught him to respect women. She really liked that about Angelo.

“I think Carol’s going to need you back inside,” he said. “She has paperwork to do in the office.”

“Okay,” Emily said.

Carol kept the week’s cash receipts in a safe behind the desk in her office. She did all the paperwork during the day on Friday. On Friday night after closing, she took the money to the bank’s after-­hours deposit slot. Emily had heard Carol’s husband, Paul, complain about that. He thought they should take it every night on the way home, so there wasn’t as much cash lying around. Carol had agreed. But as far as Emily could see, she hadn’t started doing that.

Emily had noticed that Carol was a creature of habit, and everything had to be done the same way every day. She didn’t like change. From setup to close-­up, everything—­making the coffee, squeezing the orange juice, refilling the salt, pepper, and sugar dispensers, wiping down the counter and tables—­was part of an exact ritual.

Emily liked that about Carol. She was predictable, reliable. There was no mystery to what she wanted, how she would react. It was such a comfort, because Emily seldom had any idea what was going to set Dean off. Or her mother. Emily never knew whether to expect kindness or cruelty from either of them. At the Blue Hen, there was only one rule. Work hard and be nice, and everything would go just fine. That should be the rule for life, too, Emily thought. But, of course, that wasn’t how things went.

Once she was back inside the restaurant, it did feel like a new day. Emily let the rhythm of the place take her, and she was in the groove for the rest of her shift. No more mistakes. At the end of the day, Carol made her a meat-­loaf plate with mashed potatoes and gravy and a big helping of sautéed vegetables. Emily wouldn’t have said she was hungry, but she finished every last bite and felt like she could have eaten more. She saw Carol looking at her, and then the other woman came to sit across from her in the booth.

The Blue Hen was in the lull between breakfast and lunch, a few customers lingering over their meals—­a mom spoon-­feeding oatmeal to a little boy, an old man reading a paper, a couple holding hands at the two-­top by the window.

“How was it?” asked Carol. She tapped on Emily’s empty plate.

Emily would have lifted it and licked the gravy clean if she’d been alone.

“Horrible,” she said. “I’m sending it back.”

Carol smiled at her and patted her hand. “You didn’t have breakfast.”

Customer Reviews

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Heartbroken: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this srory! There was such drama and intensity... the characters were wildly imaginative.
DAinNY1 More than 1 year ago
Three women. Three lives. All come together on an island where things will never be the same. Everything comes back to the choices one makes and in this emotional and suspenseful tale those choices leads to a trek both past and present with repercussions that will be long lasting. The frenzy pace of this drama quickly became a page. There were some tense moments that had my heart pounding as the story moved towards an adrenaline-charged conclusion. With a well-developed plot, a dynamic cast of characters, from the matriarch Birdie to the mysterious man, and a mesmerizing setting, this was an excellent read and I look forward to the next book by this talented author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of lisa unger's books. This one is my favorite. Could not put it down!!! A definate keeper!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced and interesting characters. I recommend this book for a gripping summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down. The charters are engrossing...very entertaining novel. Looking forward to reading more of this author soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I mistook the name of this story for another one I was looking for, but it held my interest anyway. Good look into the various character's psychologies, and a nice mystery to solve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far, one of my favorites by Lisa Unger. Especially enjoyed how the separate story lines converged at the most unlikely time. Great read:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The outcome of this story was nothing in comparsion to what I had expected. The author spent a lot of time building the characters which robbed this book of an interesting climax. I was hoping for more mystery and suspense. There were some slow areas within the plot; however, it eventually took off when the climax begun, which was near the end of this book. Wouud not recommend this book to someone who is trying Ms. Unger's books for the first time. Try Blackout. It was far more interesting than this novel.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Family drama with a hint of suspense, Heartbroken by Lisa Unger takes the reader to Heart Island and into the complicated relationships that exist between mothers and daughters. Unger seamlessly weaves together differing mother-daughter relationships to further develop an intricate plot, which slowly builds into a rather well thought out and suspenseful plot. Going into the book I was expecting Heartbroken to be more of in-your-face suspense/thriller, however Unger takes the book into a different direction and makes it work quite well. I enjoyed reading the complex relationships and watching the story unfold and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick summer read.Disclaimer: I received a copy of Heartbroken through the Amazon VINE Program, for review.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Birdie is a cold woman, living on a stark island, and happiest when she is alone.What made her this way is the reason for this story. Perhaps I should say stories, because there are always many threads woven into any good story. Kate, her husband Sean and her children are preparing for yet another visit toHeart Island to spend time with Kate's mother Birdie. They all feel a strange mixtureof anticipation and dread, but for different reasons. But they went to the island everyyear, and Kate really had no idea how to avoid it. Her children liked it there, she hadsome good feelings for the place as well. But Birdie, her mother, was an enigma. Time spentwith her was rarely pleasant or comfortable. But going was the right thing to do, wasn't it?Emilie had no husband, no children and in fact her own mother was more like Kate's. Cold and not very loving to her daughter. That was one thing that they seemed to have in common.The only thing that they seemed to have in common. Yet, meeting each other in an unlikely placewould change both of their lives forever. It is well worth following the threads to findthe story of how and why. recommended
Darcia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While Heartbroken is being marketed as suspense, I found it more of a family drama. The first three-quarters of the book moves slow. We explore the lives of families that are tangled in a variety of ways. The relationships are interesting, though I got a little bored with the repeated descriptions and the slow pace. The last quarter of the book picks up speed and suspense, and, for me, was the best part.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good plot, interesting characters. Definitely worth your time.
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
Good Story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good page turner that is hard to put down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book lacked something, nothing really jumps out at you.Didn't even bother to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read too many novels from Lisa Unger but the few I have read have been quite good. This book was no exception. I enjoyed the two story lines that eventually covered in an intense climax. I would recommend this book and this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good story. I would recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's rare I don't finish a novel but I couldn't make myself finish this one. It was very boring and the plot was senseless and not strong. The characters were very uninteresting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent mystery. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the summer home and island and the family traditions surrounding it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont like to put stars on the book. Just the idiots who claim to rate them while talking about thier stupid cats. How sad for readers and authors who care about ratings and reviews ? Idiots, use e-mail, face book, whatever else you useless people use, stop taking up my oxygen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Lisa Unger fan, so of course I loved the book. Perfect escape for me. I do think you can enjoy her books more if you read them in order. I couldn't find anything written that it is a sequel but the stories overlap, character show up again in other books. I read books fast, once Im on the the next I get titles mixed up with the stories and lose some of the details and names. I wish I would have realized in advance to jot down names and connection between people and some of the details of the Hollows. Because several stories take place there. my best guess on order is Fragile, Darkness my old friend and heatbroken. I think the only one I have left is sliver of truth. It looks like that may go with a set that I read a long time ago and may not remember much from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago