Growing up is hard, harder still when you're raised in a cult. Pony Darlene Fontaine lives at the very end of the world, in an isolated community founded by a charismatic leader. Time moves differently in the Territory: for its residents, it is still 1985. There are rules and rituals, by which Pony mostly abides, but all bets are off when it comes to her mother. Billie Jean Fontaine has been gradually disappearing for months and when she finally runs off, it's up to her daughter to find her. Narrated by several unforgettable characters, this spectacular debut has all the hallmarks of an instant classic. Dey's vivid prose bridges the gap between Heartbreaker's parallel elements of iconic ’80s camp and unfathomable darkness for a book that is gritty, gorgeous, and wholly original. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
About a cult long after the death of its charismatic leader, this daring novel is set in a familiar world made strange by isolation and poverty. Narrated by three remarkable characters (including a loyal, vicious dog), this is a story about love and family outside society. The world of Heartbreaker is exquisitely realized and Dey's prose shines like rhinestones. Recommended By Hayley H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A woman's disappearance shakes up a strange northern town that is stuck in the 1980s, in a wildly imaginative novel that combines elements of The Handmaid's Tale, Stranger Things and Twin Peaks.
Why can't a woman be more than one person in a lifetime?
It's been months since Billie Jean Fontaine left her bedroom, trapped alone by grief. One night, out of the blue, she emerges and announces that she's going into town--but she never returns. Her husband and daughter undertake a frantic search for the beloved and beautiful Billie Jean. She was the only outsider ever to arrive in this strange town--a town founded decades ago by a charismatic cult leader, cut off from the world ever since, where the residents think the year is 1985, and listen to Whitesnake and Air Supply on their Walkmans. Now the residents wonder: has Billie Jean become the first person to leave, too?
At the core of the novel is the deeply moving relationship between Billie Jean and her daughter: who idolizes her mother, is mystified by her, is frustrated by her. Told from three unforgettable perspectives, Heartbreaker is the electrifying portrait of a woman who has risked everything for freedom and love, and the secrets she leaves in her wake.
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.
An isolated northern town.
A mysterious cult.
And a woman who disappears.
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. Beautiful, beloved, and secretive, Billie Jean has always refused to describe the world she came from. Pony adores and idolizes her mother, but like everyone in the territory she is mystified by her past.
One night, Billie Jean announces that she is going into town. She grabs her truck keys, bolts barefoot into the cold October darkness--and vanishes. 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?
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.
Advance praise for Heartbreaker
"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, author of The Dark Dark
"I want Van Halen to write the soundtrack and the Coen brothers to make the movie. Heartbreaker plays out as a vivid, tender, complex magic, totally compulsive, singular, and wild read. The people in this book are so alive, and the book itself feels unthinkably new."--Leslie Feist, musician