The Heartbreak Diet is Thorina Rose’s graphic memoir that details the author’s dissolving marriage and how she starts her life over as a single mom to two young boys. The beginning of the book starts with Rose’s husband always leaving to go running with his “running partner”. What once was boring to him is now so interesting that he’s constantly gone. Rose illustrates this beautifully by consistently showing readers his back. It’s when her brother runs into Rose’s husband and his running partner holding hands that Rose starts to suspect something and learns the truth: her husband is having an affair and isn’t sorry at all about it. That doesn’t stop Rose from trying to win her husband back or meeting the other woman for coffee. When she realizes that she’s lost her husband, Rose starts to put the pieces of her life back together.
I enjoyed reading about Rose’s journey to become a different but better person after her husband’s affair is revealed. That’s where the strength of this book is at. Readers see why the author spent twenty years with the same person and also watch as she changes. She starts going to therapy and becomes a better mother while also going back to the passion she had years before as an illustrator.
What sometimes got in the way of my enjoyment with this book is the illustrations and the author’s almost obsessive focus on her husband. Like all graphic novels, the illustrations are either a hit or miss with some readers. Rose’s illustrations were done in black and white and sometimes took the focus away from the words (for me) but the further along I got into the story, the more I could see how the illustrations and the words were perfect together. When I look back on the author’s obsessive focus on her husband, I could see many of the reasons behind it. You see the author losing herself slowly but surely over time after she marries her husband and they start a family. The passion she has for illustration is replaced by late night feeding and being a single (but married) mother. There was just a handful of panels that showed Rose’s husband being emotionally involved with their family. By the time he admits to Rose about the affair, Rose is basically just a shadow of her old self, so seeing her navigate the world on her own and become this new person was so great to see.
Sorry about the quality of the above panels. I had to use my scanner since I couldn’t find any panels online.
The “Words of Wise Women” panels was a great transition between the past and present and also the author’s emotional state.
This graphic memoir has its flaws but I would recommend it to readers.