book cover of Heart-Breaker


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The love between a daughter and her mother—and the dark secrets they keep from each other—are at the heart of this wildly imaginative novel that combines elements of The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, and Twin Peaks.

“I love Heartbreaker’s outlandishness, its sizzling energy—the bright, fierce music in every sentence.”—Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks

It’s 1985. Pony Darlene Fontaine has lived all her fifteen years in “the territory,” a settlement founded decades ago by a charismatic cult leader. In this strange town run on a sinister economic resource, the women crimp their hair and wear shoulder pads, and the teenagers listen to Nazareth and Whitesnake on their Walkmans. Pony’s family lives in the bungalow at the farthest edge of town, where the territory borders the rest of the wider world—a place none of the townspeople have ever been.

Except for Billie Jean Fontaine, Pony’s mother. When Billie Jean arrived in the territory seventeen years prior—falling from the open door of a stolen car—the residents took her in and made her one of their own. She was the first outsider they had ever laid eyes on. Pony adores and idolizes her mother, but like everyone else in the territory she is mystified by her. Billie Jean refuses to describe the world she came from.

One night, Billie Jean grabs her truck keys, bolts barefoot into the cold October darkness—and vanishes. Beautiful, beloved, and secretive, Billie Jean was the first person to be welcomed into the territory. Now, with a frantic search under way for her missing mother, Pony fears: Will she be the first person to leave it too?

Told from the three unforgettable perspectives of a daughter, a killer dog, and a teenage boy named Supernatural, this novel is startling in its humor and wrenching in its wisdom about the powers, limits, and dangers of love. Heartbreaker is an electrifying page-turner about a woman reinventing herself in order to survive—and a daughter who must race against the clock to untangle the mysteries left in her mother’s wake.

Praise for Heartbreaker

“A fierce exploration of memory and zeitgeist . . . Heartbreaker is a darkly comedic weirdo of a book that pulls the string of nostalgia from one side while unraveling it from the other.”The Paris Review
“This is a book like no other. It’s eerie, it's cult-y, it's so very exciting, and I never wanted it to end.”Buzzfeed, Best Books of Fall 2018
“Claudia Dey renders 1985 in perfectly crimped, shoulder-padded detail. . . . Come for the Shyamalanian premise. Stay for the hard-rock soundtrack.”Chicago Tribune

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"This book is beautifully written, profoundly strange, a perfect balancing act of dark and light. Part thriller, part love story, part coming-of-age novel, it broke my heart and then put it back together again." - Claire Cameron

"Heartbreaker makes high and hilarious art from the emotional Pop Rocks and glittery junk of a certain way of being young. And vulnerable. Also, it has one of the most awesome dogs in literature. . . . A thrillingly original, wholly spellbinding, and luminous novel." - Rivka Galchen

"What a completely thrilling novel! In its story, people, vision, sentences, and fervor—in its pure intelligence and unbridled bravery—it stands apart. With Heartbreaker, the literary landscape is forever changed." - Barbara Gowdy

"A dark star of a book, glittering with mordant humor and astonishing, seductive strangeness and grace. I am a giant fan of Claudia Dey’s wild brain." - Lauren Groff

"Heartbreaker gave me chills all the way through. . . . I floated in the perfection of its ending. I loved this novel’s shining sensitivity. I loved its every page." - Sheila Heti

"Devoted as I am to the oddities of remote northern lands, I could not put this book down. By turns hilarious and harrowing, Heartbreaker’s icy exactitude is direct, disturbed, and entirely splendid." - Samantha Hunt

"Imagine a funnier but more sinister offspring of Peyton Place and Never Let Me Go, and you approximate the world of this stunning new novel. Claudia Dey’s beautiful, off-kilter music has been missing from our literary landscape for too long—a most welcome return." - Michael Redhill

"I was kidnapped by this novel. Original, alluring, and memorable, Claudia Dey’s Heartbreaker—an electrifying story about buried pasts, dark secrets, and dangerous love that shimmers and sparks—will get under your skin." - Iain Reid

"Behold the virtuosity of Heartbreaker! Claudia Dey has a perfect ear and the sharpest eye. Her portrait of Pony Darlene Fontaine, and the strange world she inhabits, is devastating, unsparing, and unforgettable." - Miriam Toews

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