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Heartache and Other Natural Shocks

A page-turning young-adult novel told from the alternating voices of two witty, sharp-edged teenage girls who compete for a role in the school production of Hamlet and for the same local bad boy, in a game of deception, betrayal, and swordplay.

When fifteen-year-old Julia Epstein and her Anglophone family flee Montreal in October 1970, she struggles to adjust to a new life in the suburban wasteland of North York, Toronto. Next door lives Carla Cabrielli, who works her "assets" and knows how to get what she wants. Julia and Carla get on a collision course, not only for the same role in the school production of Hamlet, but also for the leading man—sword-wielding bad boy and sex magnet, Ian Slater. 

Heartache and Other Natural Shocks explores teen rivalry. When events take a dangerous turn, both Julia and Carla become vulnerable to deception and betrayal. Full of unexpected twists and turns, Glenda Leznoff's unique novel marks the debut of an important new voice in young-adult fiction.



Praise for Heartache and Other Natural Shocks:


“She said, she said, with a dose of Shakespearean intrigue .... a refreshing break from contemporary teen fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews


“Told from Jules’s and Carla’s alternating viewpoints, this insightful, compassionate, and darkly humorous novel explores the agonies and ecstasies of being a teen in 1970s Canada .... Well-developed characters experiencing parental problems, jealousy, betrayal, lust, and friendship will captivate older teens.” —School Library Journal


“Glenda Leznoff sets her sexy, honest story about a love triangle between three teens against the backdrop of the early 1970s and the FLQ crisis .... Much drama ensues, but Leznoff does a great job keeping the action and dialogue realistic, both for the characters’ ages and the time period.” —Quill & Quire


“Historical fiction fans in particular will enjoy the story’s backdrop, where clippings files in the public library, record albums, and references to Canadian politics firmly set it in the 1970s. Well-developed characters, with Jules’ friend Geoff stealing the show, and the ending elevate this novel from the ordinary.” —Booklist


Leznoff gets teen girls—their conversations, their insecurities and their deep yearning for self-worth.” —The Globe and Mail



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