"Impossible to put down. It haunts me still.” -Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir
A riveting, deeply personal exploration of the opioid crisis-an empathic memoir infused with hints of true crime.
In November 2013, Rose Andersen's younger sister Sarah died of an overdose in the bathroom of her boyfriend's home in a small town with one of the highest rates of opioid use in the state. Like too many of her generation, she had become addicted to heroin. Sarah was 24 years old.
To imagine her way into Sarah's life, Rose revisits their volatile childhood, marked by their stepfather's omnipresent rage and their father's pathological lying. As the dysfunction comes into focus, so does a broader picture of the opioid crisis and the drug rehabilitation industry in small towns across America. And when Rose learns from the coroner that Sarah's cause of death was a methamphetamine overdose, the story takes a wildly unexpected turn.
As Andersen sifts through her sister's last days, we come to recognize the contours of grief and its aftermath: the psychic shattering which can turn to anger, the pursuit of an ever-elusive verdict, and the intensely personal rites of imagination and art needed to actually move on.
Reminiscent of Alex Marzano-Lesnevich's The Fact of a Body, Maggie Nelson's Jane: A Murder, and Lacy M. Johnson's The Other Side, Andersen's debut is a potent, profoundly original journey into and out of loss.
About the Author
Rose Andersen received her MFA in writing at California Institute of the Arts, where she was awarded the Emi Kuriyama Thesis Prize. Her essays have appeared in The Cut, Glamour, and elsewhere. She lives in LA with her spouse, Josh, and their dog, Charlotte.
"Visceral . . . Part story of America’s opioid crisis, part grief memoir, and part tale of a possible murder, Andersen’s deeply personal book roils with anger and empathy that, at its very heart, is a lament for the profound hole left in the wake of a sister’s tragic death." - The Daily Beast, “Best Summer Reads”
"Not since Leah Carroll’s Down City have I come across a true crime memoir with such beautiful, spare, and moving prose." - CrimeReads, “July’s Best Crime Nonfiction”
"I picked up The Heart and Other Monsters because of the resonance of its subject matter in my own life—I lost a cousin to an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2018, and an aunt to an accidental OxyContin overdose in 2019. What I didn’t know in choosing THAOM was how it would move me to act . . . I have Andersen’s harrowing, beautiful memoir to thank." - Vol 1. Brooklyn
"Combining the agonizing emotional intensity typical of narratives about losing a sibling with the memoiristic style of a murder investigation successfully complicates the reading experience. A literary grief memoir combined with a skillfully unfolded murder mystery." - Kirkus (starred review)
"A riveting and raw story . . . This tragic tale of addiction will resonate deeply with readers." - Publishers Weekly
"Poignant . . . The Heart and Other Monsters is a biography, cautionary tale and murder mystery, masterfully blended with a memoir burdened by grief and guilt for crimes committed by others." - Shelf Awareness
"The Heart and Other Monsters is one of the rare books in the marketplace that is both written by a recovering addict as well as being the person who bore witness to the downward spiral of addiction and ultimate death of her closest family member." - New York Journal of Books
"Complex, dark, emotional, and enthralling, Rose Andersen’s The Heart and Other Monsters invaded my dreams from the first page to the last. She combines the fierce love of a devoted sister with the forensic brilliance of a ferociously talented writer. The result is impossible to put down, gorgeous, and will utterly break your heart. It haunts me still." - Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A MURDER AND A MEMOIR
"A kaleidoscopic portrait of sisterly love, addiction and abuse, set against the backdrop of an American epidemic, Rose Andersen's The Heart and Other Monsters slips form and genre to give words to ineffable loss. Emotionally taut, bare and honest, Andersen's memoir held me rapt from start to finish." - Allie Rowbottom, author of JELL-O GIRLS
"Rose Andersen’s The Heart and Other Monsters will split your heart right open. It’s both a love letter to the sister she lost and an investigation into what caused her death. Heartbreaking, illuminating, and poetic, Andersen’s voice cuts through the gruesomeness of the facts she uncovers with the type of love that transcends death. More than a memoir, this book reassembles all the shapes that grief takes." - Erin Khar, author of STRUNG OUT: ONE LAST HIT AND OTHER LIES THAT NEARLY KILLED ME
"The Heart and Other Monsters dares to ask: when is love not enough? Rose Andersen searches for an answer in this vulnerable, unforgettable, and transcendent book that explores the pain of understanding what we can never truly know about another person." - Chelsea Hodson, author of TONIGHT I'M SOMEONE ELSE
"Rose Andersen has given us a page turning, crisply written and heart wrenching story of two sisters coming of age in the social calamity and psychic mayhem that is contemporary America. The Heart and Other Monsters is a tragic tale full of struggles with addiction, personal failure, male rage and small-town despair. It's also an unforgettable portrait of a family, and the never-ending work of learning that is love." - Anthony McCann, author of SHADOWLANDS
"Rose Andersen has written a gorgeous elegy to her sister, Sarah. In prose that is often mesmerizing, she creates a portrait of love and loss, addiction and sobriety. Of grief and ghosts. At the heart of this haunting memoir is the mystery of Sarah's death that Andersen tries to make sense of. Reminiscent of Rick Moody’s poignant writing about the death of his sister, this beautiful book will break your heart" - Mary Morris, author of ALL THE WAY TO THE TIGERS
"The memoir of a sister's death in which the line between overdose and murder becomes blurred, The Heart and Other Monsters is the story of two girls wounded by addiction and simultaneously troubled and sustained by a broken, complex family whose actions frequently fall short of their ideals. With the fierce honesty of Domenica Ruta's With or Without You, this is the most clearsighted depiction I know of what it's like to piece life together after a great, irreparable loss, and a deft navigation of the byways and channels leading up to that loss, through it, and beyond." - Brian Evenson, author of SONG FOR THE UNRAVELING OF THE WORLD