Heartbreaker (Random House)
Pony Darlene Fontaine is 15 years old, on the phone with her best friend watching Teen Psychic when her mother, Billie Jean Fontaine, leaves her bedroom for the first time in months. Billie Jean walks out of the front door, gets in her truck, and vanishes. The Territory, population 400, is a settlement founded decades ago by a charismatic cult leader, and it has been cut off from the world ever since. The residents of this strange town think the year is 1985. They crimp their hair, wear shoulder pads, listen to Whitesnake on their Walkmans, and have no contact with anyone from the outside world. Except for Billie Jean, the first stranger they took in as their own. And now, Pony fears, Billie Jean has become the first resident to leave.
Heartbreaker is a novel about the deeply moving relationship between a mother and a daughter—and about the dark secrets they kept from one another. When Billie Jean disappears, Pony and her father frantically try to piece together memories from the months leading up to her disappearance and make sense of her actions. The search for Billie Jean takes us on a high-voltage ride through the complex impulses of the human heart.
Told through three unforgettable points of view––Billie Jean’s daughter, her killer dog, and her mysterious friend––Heartbreaker is as devastating as it is touching and funny. With electrifying prose, it gradually reveals a portrait of a woman who must keep secrets and reinvent herself in order to survive, and a daughter who will do whatever it takes to untangle those mysteries to find her beloved mother.
Praise for Heartbreaker
“Heartbreaker is 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, author of Fates and Furies
“This book gave me chills all the way through. It is deeply original—in its wildness, its structure, its wisdom, and its world. It convinced me that the deepest of human (and animal) urges is the pull to find one’s true home—which lies in the hearts of just a few others. I floated in the perfection of its ending. I loved this novel's shining sensitivity. I loved its every page.––Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?
“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. A totally compulsive, singular and wild read. The people in this book are so alive, and the book itself feels unthinkably new.”—Leslie Feist, musician
“Devoted, as I am, to the oddities of northern, remote lands, I could not put this book down. In turns hilarious and harrowing, Heartbreaker’s icy exactitude is direct, disturbed and entirely splendid.”—Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark
“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, author of American Innovations
“I was kidnapped by this novel. Original, alluring and memorable, Claudia Dey’s Heartbreaker will get under your skin. An electrifying story about buried pasts, dark secrets, and dangerous loves that shimmers and sparks.”—Iain Reid, author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things
“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, author of The Last Neanderthal and The Bear
“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, author of A Complicated Kindness
Claudia Dey is the author of Stunt, a Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire Book of the Year. Her plays have been produced internationally and nominated for the Governor General's Award and Trillium Book Award. Dey's writing has appeared in many publications, including The Paris Review and The Believer. She has also worked as a horror film actress and a cook in lumber camps across northern Canada, and is co-designer of Horses Atelier. Claudia Dey lives in Toronto. Heartbreaker is her American debut.