Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Heartbroken; Lisa Unger

Title: Heartbroken
Author:  Lisa Unger
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher:  Books on Tape - Crown
Edition: Audio

Reader: Amanda Carlin (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 2.5/5 
Recommend: no

Lisa Unger's latest novel, Heartbroken, is part psychological suspense, part ghost story and also multi-generational in nature.  It's a story about (3) flawed women whose lives converge in unexpected ways during one fateful summer.

The women in this story are 75 year old Birdie Burke, a cold, bitter woman who thinks she may be seeing ghosts on Heart Island. Heart Island has been in Birdie's family for years and years.  Birdie lives an isolated life and because of her harshness, some family members no longer visit her each summer on the remote island, a place accessible only by boat in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks.

Emily, is a young woman with potential who drops out of college. She has always felt something was missing in her life Searching for what was missing from her life, she lets her loser boyfriend Dean control her. In the process she finds herself in one bad situation after another and ends up hurting people who cared about her. She retreats to Heart Island where things only get worse.

 Kate, is Birdie's daughter, a woman and mother who was raised to believe she'd never do anything with her life, yet still has a desire to please her miserable mother Birdie. Kate, using the journals left behind by her aunt and grandmother has written a novel that sheds light on buried secrets of the family's past. Secrets which help the reader to understand in part why Birdie is the way she is.  While other family members have stopped their summer retreats to visit Birdie on the island, because they find her unbearable, Kate, in an effort to please her mother, continues to visit more out of sense of duty. This particular summer, she takes her daughter and a friend. They arrive around the same time as Emily turns up there and before long things spiral out of control.

Although I typically enjoy stories with flawed characters and dysfunctional relationships, this novel did not work for me.These women just couldn't get out of their own way and made their own misery. None of the characters, even the minor ones were sympathetic. Although the reader and story initially drew me in, by the 1/2 way point, I could not wait to be done with this one. The audio book reader, Amanda Carlin was very good, but by listening rather than reading, I found parts of the story a bit confusing, but with patience and careful listening, it was easy enough to figure out. I do recommend trying this author's earlier books. Beautiful Lies, Sliver of Truth, Black Out, Die for You. I have read all of them enjoyed them.


  1. Too bad this plot didn't work while her previous novels did!

  2. I have not read Lisa Unger yet and must admit you're not getting me anxious to do so! LOL

  3. Hmmmmmm, I think they live in my neighborhood now.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I enjoyed the Lisa Unger book I read so I'm disappointed to see you didn't really enjoy this one.

  6. I'm so disappointed to read your opinion of this book! I won it and was looking forward to reading it because I had never read this author before. I'm glad to hear her other books are better because I bought one of her older books at a used book sale, although it wasn't one you mention.

    1. CORRECTION: the other book I have IS one you mention, Die for You.

  7. I have read some very good reviews of a couple of Lisa Ungers other books you mention. It's disappointing to read a book that doesn't work for you, but I suppose every author has a best and a worst and then some in between!

    I appreciate your honest review and will choose one of Unger's prior books to read when the time comes.

  8. I haven't read any of her books. Sorry this one didn't work for you.

  9. I've read a few Unger books which I enjoyed. A pity this one didn't work for you. Funny, I posted a Did Not Finish on another thriller myself today, as you saw.

  10. Thanks for the warning … I'm not big into Unger anyway though.

  11. I can deal with unsympathetic and emotionally messy characters if the plot is well done, but I have a feeling that this one just kind of fell apart in the last section, and this left you feeling disengaged. I am not going to be reading this one, but I will be looking for some of the author's previous work.

  12. I have a couple of the author's earlier books in my TBR pile so am glad you mentioned you enjoyed them at least! This one sounded good on the surface, but seems to have failed on delivery. That's too bad. :-( Thank you for your thoughtful review, Diane!

  13. I liked this one a bit better than you did, wasn't Birdie a piece of work?

  14. This one sounds a bit depressing. I think I'd try an earlier work instead.

  15. I have a few of her books on my shelves so I won't hesitate to read those but I will make sure that this one doesn't make its way to my house!!

  16. The story sounds like it would be good from the description but I can understand how dysfunctional characters can get annoying after a while.

  17. It's disappointing to have a book start out well and then just fizzle half way through. Phoooooey!

  18. After loving Unger's first book she's been hit or miss with me since. It looks like I can skip this one.


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