Release Date: 2012

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 one another. And unbeknownst to them all, Heart Island has a terrifying history of its own.

Heartbroken is a tense, mesmerizing novel about the limits of dysfunctional families, of an island haunted by dark memories, and of the all-too-real demons we must battle. Wonderfully suspenseful, exquisitely crafted, and written with raw, emotional power, this is New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger at her very best.


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Awards and Honors

  • New York Daily News Top New Thriller
  • Publishers Weekly Best New Book
  • Suspense Magazine Best Book of the Year


“Imagine being trapped on an island with cold-blooded killers, and you get an idea of this stellar novel's scare quotient... This is a dark novel complemented by the island's cold, rocky backdrop. 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

“An idyllic island retreat, a family rife with secrets, creepy bad guys and lousy cell phone reception: Heartbroken has all the makings of a high-wire thriller. But it's the twisted psyches of its main characters that really unsettle. Birdie Burke, the spectacularly passive-agressive matriarch, lords over Heart Island, where her good-girl daughter stirs up old scandals, and they fatefully cross paths with a waitress drawn to the dark side. Unger expertly shows how quiet betrayals can rupture a life as deeply as an act of violence.”
People Magazine

“A can't-put-down thriller interlaced with insightful family drama and echoes of Wuthering Heights.”
Family Circle Magazine

“Three women are haunted by their pasts in this insidious psychological thriller. Set, quite appropriately, on a claustrophobic island.”
Chicago Tribune

“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 this novel shine is the struggle of multidimensional characters with issues that all of us face but sometimes don't want to acknowledge.”
Associated Press

“Lisa Unger tackles choices about love as well as questions of identity in her suspenseful stand-alone novel Heartbroken… posits three women, each reaching a crisis in her life and unsure what to do about it… Unger gracefully explores the impact of the intersection of these three lives and the power that each has to decide her future. Heartbroken works well as an intense psychological thriller that explores a family with complex relationships, destructive secrets and uneasy legacies…She 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

“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... And she returns to one of her most frequent themes, the damage that secrets can do for generations.”
Tampa Bay Times

“In the category of literary thriller, Unger qualifies as America’s answer to the U.K.’s Kate Atkinson. She writes finely calibrated plots in prose that is exact, and she knows how to press the tension button for all it’s worth.”
The Toronto Star

“This is a novel that will sweep you away with the story of two families and the connection between the two of them as secrets come out in one violent night. Unger's characterization is spot on.”
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

“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

“Will captivate fans of mystery and psychological suspense. This is one of Unger’s best novels yet.”
Library Journal (starred review) 

“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) 

“A triumvirate of strong women pitted against a shared past and dangerous future... Unger is a master at building characters that crackle with personality and purpose, and the women in this novel are no exception... Unger knows how to write a taut thriller.”

“This page-turner is multi-layered and intriguing, as master storyteller Lisa Unger weaves a compelling plotline... Characters are fully fleshed out and three-dimensional, making them people readers care about.”

“It’s literary, spellbinding, and chilling. Think: fateful drama with some Stephen King-ish specters to up the ante.”


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