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Heather, the Totality

2.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,687 ratings  ·  871 reviews
The explosive debut novel - about family, power and privilege - from the creator of the award-winning Mad Men.
One of People magazine's 'People Picks'

Mark and Karen Breakstone have constructed the idyllic life of wealth and status they always wanted, made complete by their beautiful and extraordinary daughter Heather. But they are still not quite at the top. When the new
Hardcover, 138 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company (first published November 2017)
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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…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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2.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,687 ratings  ·  871 reviews

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Jessica Woodbury
Jul 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
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
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it

Andrew Smith
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.

Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Der Hammer!! Perfekte Länge für Zwischendurch und einfach düster und packend. Jedoch hab ich einen Stern abgezogen, weil die Sätze teilweise EXTREM lang waren und ich dauernd im Lesefluss gestört wurde.
Nichtsdestotrotz SUPER :)
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
Jul 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
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.
Zuky the BookBum
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
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark en Karen hebben allebei hun jeugdtrama's verwerkt...ze willen allebei een betere ouder zijn voor hun dochter Heather...uiteraard heeft dit weer effect op Heather...uiteindelijk weet Mark Heather te redden...redt Karen hun relatie...eind goed al goed....Het verhaal is saai en voorspelbaar...leest vlot...
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about this book is that it's short. Other than that, it was a waste of time.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Das war eine sehr positiv überraschende, kurzweilige Lektüre, auch deshalb weil Weiner (bekannt als Schöpfer von Serien wie „Mad Men“) sich kurzfasst. Gerade mal 130 Seiten umfasst diese Geschichte.

Und an Erzählweisen von Filmen und Serien fühlte ich mich beim Lesen dieser spannenden Geschichte in der Tat erinnert. Der Wechsel zwischen den Perspektiven des vermeintlichen Täters und den vermeintlichen Opfern treibt die Handlung voran. Da ist der brutale Kerl aus einem schlechten Viertel New Jerse
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara Mazzoni
Premessa da chiarire ai potenziali lettori/lettrici di questo libro: Heather, più di tutto non è un romanzo: è una novella, un racconto lungo. L’edizione ebook ha 65 pagine di testo (poi sapete che la pagina ebook contiene in media più battute di quella cartacea). Se pensate di acquistarlo tenetene conto, visto che l’ebook costa 9 euro e il cartaceo costa addirittura 17 euro.

Ciò detto, l’altra premessa è che probabilmente saprete già tutti chi sia Matthew Weiner, ovvero il creatore di Mad Men,
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 • She Reads with Cats
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.

Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rachel León
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.

Mouthful Of Books
Interessanter, aber gewöhnungsbedürftiger Schreibstil. Man braucht als Leser eine gewisse Zeit, um den Lesefluss auf das gewohnte Niveau zu bringen.
Die Geschichte an sich ist kurzweilig und sehr Noir.
Eine Familie, deren Leben sich nur um ihre Tochter Heather dreht und dem anhäufen von Wohlstand. Ein Junge namens Bobby, den das Leben mit einer miserablen Mutter strafft und der für ein Leben hinter Gittern prädestiniert ist. Beide Stränge werden parallel erzählt und kommen am Ende zusammen. Empa
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf-arcs
Bewilderingly bad, and so short I thought I'd received a faulty ARC at first.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
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 opportu
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Kasa Cotugno
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
“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
“why should she care about them? didn't both of her parents deserve to be ignored for being exhaustingly needy of her time and affection? hadn't they earned it? other parents acted similarly but Heather's were the most suffocating” 0 likes
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