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Heather, the Totality

2.93  ·  Rating details ·  5,657 ratings  ·  1,007 reviews
The Breakstone family arrange themselves around their daughter Heather, and the world seems to follow: beautiful, compassionate, entrancing, she is the greatest blessing in their lives of Manhattan luxury. But as Heather grows-and her empathy sharpens to a point, and her radiance attracts more and more dark interest-their perfect existence starts to fracture. Meanwhile a v ...more
ebook, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
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Lucy Morrison OK, never mind. I see now that this is going to be one of those books full of inappropriate capitalizations, and that they'll distract and annoy me th…moreOK, never mind. I see now that this is going to be one of those books full of inappropriate capitalizations, and that they'll distract and annoy me throughout.(less)

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Average rating 2.93  · 
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 ·  5,657 ratings  ·  1,007 reviews

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Jessica Woodbury
Jul 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
I never expected to write another 1-star review. (This is only my second in 10 years.) These days, if something is bad I just quit reading much of the time. What happened here was a combination of curiosity and ultimately having to see it through to make sure it would end as badly as I expected. (Spoiler alert: it did.)

I was thinking maybe I wouldn't write a review at all. I don't like writing bad reviews. I take no joy in them. But readers have my loyalty more than writers and publishers, and i

Andrew Smith
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Manhattan financier Mark Breakstone is successful enough at his job, but he seems destined never to reach the top echelon. Nevertheless, when he's introduced by friends to Karen she sees sufficient potential to throw in her lot and soon they are married and living in a nice apartment close to Park Avenue. Not too much later a beautiful and seemingly gifted daughter, Heather, is born. So adorable is their offspring that it isn't long before her parents are actively competing for her affections.

May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This novella length work is not a book at all. It's the treatment you would write for a movie or the outline and biographies that you would write before you wrote the actual book. There is no dialogue, just a recitation of people doing or thinking things. Rather than being suspenseful, the whole thing just felt sort of sleazy and leering. There is no way that this would have been published if the author had not been the creator of Mad Men. It was hugely disappointing. I received a free copy of t ...more
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
This is a colossally dumb book. Boring, paint-by-numbers writing, a predictable plot, and forgettable characters. There's not even a hint of anything captivating or fresh to mitigate this tired trip down cliché lane. It was only 130 pages long, and sometimes I laughed at how dumb it all was and at how there was NO reason for this book to exist, but that's all I can muster as an endorsement. ...more
Zuky the BookBum
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars, 2017
2.5 stars

I can understand the negatives reviews for this book because it was underwhelming.

People are complaining about the writing style but it didn’t bother me that much. I guess this just felt like a slightly bulked out storyboard for a TV show, which would make sense as the author wrote Mad Men.

Some people think there is no character development in this novella, but I can’t say I agree. Mark and Karen are well described throughout the book and though you don’t get much history into each char
I have always wanted to be a writer. To me there is no better job in the entire universe. As luck would have it I was working my day job waiting table’s at Dan Tanna’s in West Hollywood when Matthew Weiner, creator, writer, and show-runner for the hit television show Mad Men got seated in my section! This was my big break, I just knew it.

“Mr. Weiner, I have always wanted to write novels,” I stammered, “any chance you can give me some pointers?”

“Of course,” the generous Mr. Weiner replied removi
Bam cooks the books ;-)
Interesting novella--sort of a fleshed out storyboard, no dialogue. Mark and Karen marry, have a beautiful daughter they name Heather and live a comfortable, if not totally happy, life in NYC. A young man with a very different kind of background is part of a construction team working on their condo building. Mark starts to worry when he sees the guy eyeing his daughter. Strange ending with a bit of a twist.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to read an arc of this s
Roman Clodia
Nov 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this is bad! How a writer of the iconic Mad Men and The Sopranos can pen this is a mystery - was he 12 at the time?

With no dialogue (really, NO dialogue), a story that flits through 18 years in a nanosecond, random capitalisations (the Woman, the Trainee, the Father, the Worker), and a completely bonkers 'plot' (view spoiler)
Kelly Long
Sep 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, arcs
The best thing about this book is that it's short. Other than that, it was a waste of time. ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Mad Men and Their Women

I've never watched an episode of "Mad Men", so I came to creator Matthew Weiner's novel with no preconceptions other than those generated by the numerous blurbs on the front and back covers (all of which were dutifully supplied by authors or artists whom I otherwise respect).

The novel is a mere 134 pages long. There are usually two to four compact paragraphs per page. The novel reads like a treatment for a film or TV series. Ironically for a film-related project, there is
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tense and deadpan in God's-eye journalistic style, Heather, The Totality is a spare and sparse hypnotic story about people tumbling helplessly towards irrevocable breakdown. The storytelling is almost cold and distant as it rummages through the characters' lives, past and present, but the view of the characters is close-up and personal, delving into their most private thoughts, real and perceived.

I admit that I couldn't put this down for love or money (or even sleep) once I'd started, its pacey
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
There was just something very noir and compulsive about this slim novel that kept me turning the pages and not wanting to stop. I read a review (a negative one) that pointed out that there was not a single line of dialogue in the entire book. I hadn't even noticed that until I read that review. To this reviewer, the lack of dialogue was unfavorable, however I found that it created a certain mood and rhythm that I really liked. I see that readers are really split on this one, but the more I think ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I’ve never seen Mad Men so I don’t know what that’s about but judging by what is written in reviews, people seem to love that. This, not so much. It was okay, but it really read like an outline for a tv show about some sad, undeniable truths. 2.5
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I simply do not know what to make of this strange little story. Author Matthew Weiner was a writer for Mad Men which explains the "darkness hidden inside the American dream" theme that runs throughout the story of the Breakstone family, somewhat schlubby and insecure but loving Mark, his equally insecure wife Karen and their messianic daughter Heather who is so beautiful, kind, and empathetic she draws worshipful admirers wherever she goes almost from the moment of her birth. At least that's wha ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, arc
See more of my reviews at

Heather is the glowing center of the Breakstone family. She's beautiful and magnetic, worshipped by all, especially her parents, Mark and Karen. To outsiders, their family seems perfect---rich, successful, happy---but, in reality, Mark is plagued by insecurity, Karen is deeply lonely, and their family life is suffering. As a result, Heather feels simultaneously neglected and smothered by her parents, and is irritated by their inability to provide a m
Janelle Janson
HEATHER, THE TOTALITY by Matthew Weiner - Thank you so much to Little Brown for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own.

“She was radiant with life, even when she was alone, or thought she was.”

My Review:

Mark and Karen Breakstone met and married at age 40 so when they had a daughter, Heather, she became the center of their universe. They live in an upscale neighborhood and appear to have it all. As Heather grows up, things start to shift and her relationship with her parents changes.

Rachel León
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, 2017
I jumped at the chance to read this novel after hearing about it on the Book Riot podcast. Matthew Weiner is the creator of Mad Men and this book is his debut. It's almost a stretch to call it a novel because it's so short. It's more like a long short story or a novella.

There's not a lot to tell about the plot without ruining it, which is probably why the description here simply reads it's the tale of a family and a psychopath. True, but it's also a story about obsession and parental love.

Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As everyone knows who has read this blog or seen me talk at conferences about The Sopranos, etc., I've long admired Matthew Weiner's work on both The Sopranos and Mad Men, and indeed consider it to be at the very apex of television. I was thus more than pleased to get a slightly-advance copy of Weiner's first novel (due to be published November 7) late yesterday, and read it one-and-a-half sittings (a little in the wee hours of the morning, the rest just this afternoon). It's only 134 short page ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Dark. Really, really dark but gripping at the same time. Especially for it's brevity. I love Matthew Weiner and everything he does. ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short but effective novella; a solid foray into fiction by Matthew Weiner, of Mad Men fame. This novella is blunt and affectless in the way it contrasts privilege and the absence of it. It’s certainly a story of two world colliding. Tension is built effectively, quickly yet steadily throughout. Weiner is scathing in his critique of the pursuit of perfection, the facades we make for our lives, and the culture of competitive comparison that rules so many of our social interactions. What ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf-arcs
Bewilderingly bad, and so short I thought I'd received a faulty ARC at first. ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received a free ARC of this novel (more of a novella) from the publisher, Hachette Book Group, after winning a GoodReads book giveaway.

I'm not sure if I would consider this book to be dark & weird or weird & dark. Either way, it was a pretty large disappointment for me. I did not enjoy Matthew Weiner's writing style at all. His choppy paragraphs were sometimes random and often inconsistent. The rugged paragraphs left a lot to be desired between them and I felt that he missed an opportunity to
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arcs-netgalley
I had high hopes for this book based on the author, Matthew Weiner, and his creation, Mad Men. Unfortunately, this lacked everything that made the show unique - the plot was predictable, the writing was overly simplistic, and I failed to appreciate any of the characters. This felt more like an outline for a story as opposed to a fully developed novel.

The basic story is about the Breakstone family: Mark, his wife Karen, and their daughter, Heather. Even at a young age, Heather's vivacious person
Kasa Cotugno
Dec 30, 2017 added it
Shelves: audio
No stars. Yup. No stars. The author, showrunner for Mad Men, must recognize this is an outline that will be ultimately rejected for production. Maybe five words of dialogue -- all exposition, and cliched at that, and the only reason I finished it was that it was short.
Maggie Thrash
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A small but powerful punch. Loved this book. I loved that it wasted no time, was unpretentious, and got straight to the heart of every character without simplifying them or annihilating their mystery. Hard to put down
Anita Reads
Sep 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I just want to say that I almost never give out 1 star ratings, but this was bad! It was hardly even a book...
This was very nearly a one-sitting read for me. Famously, Matthew Weiner is the creator of Mad Men, but instead of Sixties stylishness this debut novella is full of all-too-believable creepiness and a crescendo of dubious decisions. Mark and Karen Breakstone are the parents of one beloved daughter, Heather. We follow them over the years of their courtship and marriage, getting little snapshots of a normal middle-class family; “it would be a catastrophic betrayal if the world discovered the Break ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book

I read all the negative reviews and I have to disagree. I really loved this book. It was well-paced with typical Matthew Weiner brilliant thoughts scattered throughout. Anyone who is a fan of Mad Men will recognize his thought process, which I personally greatly enjoyed. It’s not the greatest work of literature! But it’s a solid, enjoyable first novel from an extremely talented writer and thinker!
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
A short, quickie kind of a book. I waivered rating it between 1-2 stars.

We get a description of the young Brookstones, their routine, elitist Manhattanite lives and the adoration (mostly one sided by the mother) of their only daughter, Heather. The book is written as time passes over the years and here she is, the one and only lovely Heather, a teen now.

Bobby, a low level construction worker in their building, damaged mentally, being imprisoned and living in a house of drugs and squalor and up
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Matthew Weiner is an American writer, director and producer. He is the creator of the AMC television drama series Mad Men, which premiered in 2007 and ended in 2015. He is also noted for his work on the HBO drama series The Sopranos, on which he served as a writer and producer during the show's fifth and sixth seasons (2004; 2006–2007). He directed the comedy film Are You Here in 2013, marking his ...more

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“Her Mother and Father were especially blind to feelings. Her Father denied he even had feelings and her Mother assumed everyone shared hers. Heather didn’t know for years that her ability to see people’s feelings and even feel them sometimes was unusual and when she discovered that the cruelty and rudeness that adults and friends inflicted on each other was unintentional or at least uninformed, she decided to withdraw, overwhelmed by the pain of typical human behavior.” 2 likes
“despite all the machinery of civilization devoted to splitting up and moving on, Mark couldn't imagine the strength needed to actually do such a thing.” 0 likes
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