Only Love Can Break Your Heart Summary and Reviews

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

by Ed Tarkington

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2016
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

"Love can make people do terrible things."

Welcome to Spencerville, Virginia, 1977. Eight-year-old Rocky worships his older brother, Paul. Sixteen and full of rebel cool, Paul spends his days cruising in his Chevy Nova blasting Neil Young, cigarette dangling from his lips, arm slung around his beautiful, troubled girlfriend. Paul is happy to have his younger brother as his sidekick. Then one day, in an act of vengeance against their father, Paul picks up Rocky from school and nearly abandons him in the woods. Afterward, Paul disappears.

Seven years later, Rocky is a teenager himself. He hasn't forgotten being abandoned by his boyhood hero, but he's getting over it, with the help of the wealthy neighbors' daughter, ten years his senior, who has taken him as her lover. Unbeknownst to both of them, their affair will set in motion a course of events that rains catastrophe on both their families. After a mysterious double murder brings terror and suspicion to their small town, Rocky and his family must reckon with the past and find out how much forgiveness their hearts can hold.

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Reviews

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"Starred Review. Fans of Kathryn Stockett's The Help will embrace debut author Tarkington's depiction of Southern life at a time of changing social mores. Those who liked Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat will also find much to appreciate here. Most of all, readers who can't get enough of Wiley Cash, Ron Rash, and Brian Panowich will delight in discovering this fine new writer." - Library Journal

"From beginning to end, the plotline is intense, never flagging." - Booklist

"Well-written and observed, though the characters and situations are familiar from many, many previous novels." - Kirkus

"Tarkington's people are rakes, rascals, irascible losers, femme fatales, rich buffoons, dunderheads, beautiful loons, and one very cool dude, all balanced by the voice of a narrator you come to love as much as he loves his doomed older brother." - Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

"Narrated by Rocky, the younger of the two, in a voice that is beguiling and wise, this addictive tale of abandonment and forgiveness will haunt you long after you've turned the last page." - Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

"A wonderful, beauty-haunted piece of work. Tarkington's voice in his hard-to-put-down debut novel has a timeless feel to its cadences, the same bittersweet music we hear in the storytelling of the best of our Southern writers who remind us how hard the world can be for dreamers." - Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

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More Information

Ed Tarkington received a BA from Furman University, an MA from the University of Virginia, and PhD from the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Florida State. A frequent contributor to Chapter16.org, his articles, essays, and stories have appeared in Nashville Scene, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Post Road, the Pittsburgh Quarterly, the Southeast Review, and elsewhere. A native of Central Virginia, he lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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