Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey

Norton. Feb. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781324003489. $30. MEMOIR
While much has been written about love—both falling into it and the intense psychological changes that occur during its first stages—the same cannot be said for heartbreak. Williams (Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History) works to ameliorate this by walking readers through her own divorce and her navigation of single life, sharing custody of her children with her ex, and getting back on the dating scene. Perhaps the most compelling feature of this work is Williams’s foray into the science of heartbreak. Williams uses her own body as an example of the physical manifestations of grief and trauma. After her divorce, she developed adult-onset type-1 diabetes and later learned that so-called “divorce diabetes” is not entirely uncommon. The author describes undergoing blood tests to track her grief’s impact on the molecular level, experimenting with psychedelics, and much more in this heartfelt romp through her process of rediscovery and the science of heartbreak. Alongside her own story, Williams includes stories of others navigating divorce or separation.
VERDICT Readers will appreciate Williams’s candid portrayal of her personal journey and the book’s understanding of heartbreak’s impact on the human body.
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