Books & Literature

Book Review: Heartsick, by Jessie Stephens

NON-FICTION: Based on three true stories, Heartsick is a compelling narrative nonfiction account of the many lows and occasional surprising highs of heartbreak.

Gives you permission to wallow in your heartbreak just a little bit longer.
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Is it possible to compare heartbreak? Does another’s heartbreak in love make you feel just a little bit better? Are one’s feelings after a relationship break up unique?

Although every relationship and its demise is unique, heartache is familiar to us all. In Heartsick, we hear the stories of three separate relationships. All three stories are true.

We hear about Claire, a needy lesbian who is highly insecure and emotionally demanding. Although she is aware her thoughts are irrational, it does little to curb her behaviours or heal her mental health. We also listen to Patrick, who, first time in love, realises he is perhaps not the man he thought he was. Finally, there is Ana, happily married with a family and in love with another man. Is this even possible? Are some people just built this way? What does she do? The three stories are told in multiple alternate chapters, with each chapter ending with a taste of what is yet to come for that person.

As the contributors of this book remain anonymous, complete honesty is shared without bias, as they were not trying to preserve face or hide their shame. No one is hiding behind anything in this novel, which one often does when they tell the story themselves. It gives the owners of the stories the freedom to really be disgusted at themselves. This is perhaps the most riveting part of the author’s approach.

Self-loathing, insecurities, anxious thoughts, and of course all the positive parts of love such as attraction, appreciation, and joy, are the author’s way of developing the characters. I can’t say I was particularly drawn to any of the people in the novel however I really felt their feelings. Stephens has a wonderful skill of interweaving seemingly ordinary occasions of life in a way that tells a story without any drudgery. In fact, she makes it enticing.

In love and heartache, one’s true emotions are often shared however we often keep our inner thoughts and lingering heartaches to ourselves. These can last for a long time, as this novel shows. Perhaps you hear yourself saying, “Get over it”? Like seriously? Hurting someone, is it worth it? Or being hurt, is it worth it? How do you decide? This is suitable for any audience and a great summer read.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: March 2021
RRP: $34.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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