Paperback Hard Cover eBook

PAPERBACK

TRIM SIZE: 5.5 X 8.25

ISBN: 978-1-61620-526-3

LIST PRICE: $15.95

HARDCOVER

PAGES: 304

TRIM SIZE: 5.5 x 8.25

ISBN: 978-1-61620-382-5

LIST PRICE: $25.95

E-book

PAGES: 304

ISBN: 978-1-61620-382-5

Welcome to Spencerville, Virginia, 1977. A time when teenagers roamed wild and free. When sons worshipped God, loved their mothers, and feared their fathers. And when eight-year-old Rocky still worshipped his older brother, Paul–sixteen and full of rebel cool–who was happy to have his younger brother as his sidekick, until one day things went terribly wrong and Paul disappeared.

Seven years later, Rocky, now a teenager himself, must reckon with the past after a mysterious double murder brings terror and suspicion to their small town, and to their broken family.

Praise

“A lush mystery-within-a-coming-of-age-tale-within-a-Southern-Gothic. If a book could have an Instagram filter, Tarkington’s would be set on something called ‘Nostalgic’ . . . interesting, readable and beautifully written.”—NPR Books

“Tarkington’s writing is talky, devoid of flash, and calls to mind a young Pat Conroy . . . propulsion is its primary attribute. Not mere plot propulsion—though there’s plenty of that, especially after the corpses turn up—but emotional propulsion: Tarkington’s fidelity to period and place is matched by his fidelity to human contradictions, to the gray area between heroism and villainy in which most of us reside. The gothic elements add spice, but the protein in this assured debut—the part that sticks to your ribs—is the beautiful but ever-threatened connection between Rocky and Paul. Only Love Can Break Your Heart is a novel about brotherhood, most of all, about the delicate fortress of that bond.”—Garden & Gun

“Set against the backbeat of classic rock hits of the 1970s, Ed Tarkington’s pitch-perfect first novel pays tribute to music, love and growing up in small-town America. That Tarkington throws in illicit sex, a perverted cult leader and a multiple murder only enhances the novel's hypnotic grip on its readers . . . This novel may be a murder mystery wrapped in the cloak of Southern Gothic charm but, at its essence, it's a novel about love. Love for the music that informed Tarkington’s formative years and love for the familial and romantic relationships that can hurt as much as uplift us.”—Chicago Tribune

“This heartbreakingly effective coming-of-age story about the importance of love in one’s life is replete with moments of harsh cruelty and tender love. Beautifully written, it vividly brings to life its Southern characters, landscape, and small-town claustrophobia. Readers will stop and reread paragraphs, not because of confusion but for the pure joy of the language . . . 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, starred review

“I’ve heard it said that all good fiction is about blood, love, or money. If that’s true, then Ed Tarkington has hit the trifecta with his soulful first novel . . . plainspoken yet elegant prose, with a heavy dash of good old-fashioned storytelling . . . And if it’s true that only love can break our hearts—as we’re reminded often in these pages—Tarkington also makes the case that only love can put us back together again. You’ll believe both things are true by the end of this novel.”—Peter Geye, author of The Lighthouse Road, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A coming-of-age story that evolves into a whodunit with tangled roots in three families whose lives collide in 1977 . . . [a] well-plotted, generous inquiry into the intricacies of the human heart — especially the broken variety . . . Secrets abound, imaginations run wild . . .”—Atlanta Journal Constitution

 

Meet the Author

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 currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.