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Heartsick: Three Stories about Love, Pain, and What Happens in Between (Hardcover)
Heartsick unpacks the destruction of love by following the true stories of three lives altered by a major heartbreak.
I wrote this book for the person who doesn’t want to be told that this too shall pass. Not yet. Who wants to sit with it. And see it for what it is. Who wants to know they’re not alone. That their pain is at once unique and universal. Belonging to them and everyone.
When we’re thrown into the chaos of heartsickness, we focus so much on the end. The fact we are now unloved seems so much more important than the reality that we once were.
This book was born in the hours I’ve waited for men to message me back and who never did…
In the years full of almost-relationships, I thought, “I cannot handle another rejection,” and then found myself turned down by someone I wasn’t even sure I liked. I wrote this book because I know what it is to feel fundamentally unlovable. I knew when I was looking for Ana, Patrick, and Claire that their stories had to be true, because within them would be nuances I’d never noticed before and realities I couldn’t have invented. I didn’t want to be limited by what I happened to know about love and loss. I wanted to learn from people as I wrote, injecting wisdom from different places and genders and ages into this book.
Weaving together these three true stories, Jessie Stephens captures the painful but wholeheartedly universal experience of heartbreak. Deeply relatable, addictive to the very last page, and powerfully human, Heartsick reminds us that emotional pain can make us as it breaks us and that storytelling has the ultimate healing power.
In the solitude that reading a book demands, one is forced to reflect on one’s own life. After all, every time we explore others, we’re mostly just exploring ourselves.
These are their stories—Ana’s and Patrick’s and Claire’s. But it is also my story and our story. I trust within it you will find echoes of yourself.
About the Author
Jessie Stephens is a Sydney-based writer and podcaster, with a Master’s degree in History and Gender Studies. She’s the assistant head of content at Mamamia and co-host of the podcast Mamamia Out Loud. She also hosts Mamamia’s True Crime Conversations and Book Club podcasts, where she’s had the pleasure of interviewing some of her favorite authors. Heartsick is her first book.
“Thought-provoking, highly original, and beautifully nuanced. Jessie Stephens’s journalistic skill shines as she weaves together true stories with a narrative as compelling as any novel.”
—Jane Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Dry
“Unflinching, perceptive, and inquisitive—all the things Jessie Stephens does best—Heartsick is a window into another person’s soul, with permission to read the inside of their heart. In its pages, Heartsick delivers what every brokenhearted person needs, the ability to see themselves in others who have walked this path before them. With this book, Jessie Stephens has just established herself as a major player in the Australian literary scene. A stunning debut.”
—Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Sister
“As Tolstoy forgot to mention, every heartbreak is heartbreaking in its own way. In this melancholy and oddly compelling book, Jessie Stephens tells the story of three individuals suffering their own unique torments of rejection and regret and longing for the impossible. If you have a heart, you should probably read Heartsick.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher and Tracy Flick Can’t Win
“In Heartsick, Jessie Stephens shines the light on the particular devastation of romantic heartache, a subject woefully under-discussed and under-supported in our culture. Stephens' book takes seriously the grief that follows a break-up, refusing to shy away from the messy post-break-up period when the heartbroken feels the light drain out of their days and the vitality escape their bodies. The real gold in Stephens' book is not that she offers false promises of instant healing or vapid slogans about how many fish are in the sea, but that she offers comfort and company to anyone aching from the loss of a love. I couldn't stop turning the pages of this big-hearted book, which will no doubt be a balm to so many.”
—Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author of Group
“Heartsick is unlike any book I've ever encountered before—a devastating and remarkably empathetic account of three real relationships that's told with a novel's lyricism and grace. With her compassionate renderings of Ana, Patrick, and Claire, Jessie Stephens has given us that rare and precious thing: a story that makes us feel less alone.”
—Grant Ginder, author of Let's Not Do That Again and The People We Hate at the Wedding
“I couldn’t stop reading this book, and when love unraveled, I couldn’t stop feeling that someone finally understood exactly how it felt. Jessie Stephens honors how we find and lose ourselves so completely in one another, and why on earth we’d ever want to try again. Just like the relationships in this book, I didn’t want these stories to end.”
—Cathy Guisewite, creator of the “Cathy” comic strip
“Stephens parses the ‘unique and universal’ effects of heartbreak in this candid debut…by telling the real-life breakup stories of three individuals…Despite the book’s melancholic nature, there’s beauty in her subjects’ vulnerability and resilience…A paean to the lovelorn, this stuns in its rawness.”
“[Stephens] shares her own story of heartbreak, [and] seeks to help others acknowledge and survive this grief. Readers drawn to this book may be comforted in knowing that others have lived through heartsickness.”