I’ve already reviewed Rabb’s other book, Kissing in America, which I really liked. So I had high expectations for Cures for Heartbreak, her first.
This book is relatively compact, with a lot packed into only 230 pages. At the opening, fifteen-year-old Mia’s mother has just died twelve days after receiving a diagnosis of melanoma. Mia is heartbroken because the two were very close. Mia and her older sister fight all the time instead of providing comfort to each other. Rabb effectively shows Mia’s bereavement and her acting out in ways the reader can understand. Then Mia's father has a heart attack, which he survives, but it ushers in new hospital time. Mia is still trying to recover from her mom’s death all while dealing with everything else a teenager has to deal with, especially school and (sometimes inappropriate) crushes, and now she has to worry about her father, too. The book’s really about Mia coming to understand that love is complex and that it isn’t lost when you find a way forward.
Mia’s a very well portrayed character—authentic and compelling. We see her father through her embarrassed and frustrated eyes, and he’s a good character too. They get closer after her mom’s death and her older sister’s departure, with their weekly trips to Wendy’s. Of course the writing is also lovely, evocative and full of moving details.
I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Kissing in America (though that one is a little funnier than this one) or who likes to see portraits of people dealing with grief in the best way they can.