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Duty, not love, drives 'Heartbroken' family

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:00 PM

"Heartbroken," by Lisa Unger (Crown)

Lisa Unger, author of "Fragile" and "Darkness, My Old Friend," masterfully writes of the joys and frustrations of family life in her latest novel, "Heartbroken."

Every summer, Kate and her family visit her mother on Heart Island, which is accessible only by boat. They go out of duty, not love.

Unger immerses the reader in the nuances of the frustrations and anxiety felt when obligation is the reason for a family visit. She also examines the feelings of abandonment and anger when it seems your family doesn't care.

"Heartbroken" also follows Emily, a waitress struggling to pay the bills. She's caught in a relationship with a man who forces her to commit a crime of desperation out of love for him.

The lives of Emily and Kate will collide on Heart Island.

Heart Island has a story to tell, and Kate's mother has a past she cannot let go. Family to her is nothing more than company amid the isolation, and she is the loneliest of all.

Forget the thriller and suspense elements of the story. 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.

How far would you go to protect a family member you don't particularly like?

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