Desert Isle Keeper
How to Hack a Heartbreak
How to Hack a Heartbreak is a delightful book – a breezy read that grabs the reader from the first page. What amazes me is although I know that Rockaway could not possibly have written Heartbreak yesterday, it reads that way; it’s so of-the-moment. I can see readers juggling Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill with Rockaway’s How to Hack a Heartbreak because they share common ground. Women frequently get the short-end of the stick when they’re overlooked professionally or contend with sexual innuendo and worse: the #MeToo movement is here because it’s needed.
Melanie Strickland is a computer science graduate who lives in New York City. She’s burdened with debt but hey, she’s working in her field, albeit peripherally. She works for Hatch, a “startup incubator”, but Mel’s not a “Hatchling” aka fledging programmer/creative genius because she lacks the essential equipment – yes, that equipment. Good segue to one of the themes of How to Hack a Heartbreak – dick pix. Mel’s day job is manning the helpdesk for all the bros who infect their laptops with viruses from verboten porn and gaming sites. They download crap and Mel cleans up behind them. At least Hatch has good health care benefits.
What’s a girl to do? Borrowing liberally from Guys and Dolls, Mel’s ‘time of day’ is the nighttime; she hangs out with a fabulous posse of friends, she chillaxes with Netflix, and lives the Brooklyn life, checking out a different exercise class each Thursday through the good auspices of Groupon… before she swipes left or right with the “ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.”
Mel’s mad, sad, frustrating life coalesces one evening. She’s in a bar waiting for Brandon, her latest Fluttr date. While she waits, she checks out a few more Fluttr prospects: Joe looks promising, but suddenly her office crush, delicious Alex Hernandez shows up at the bar. Friendly, verging on sexy banter ensues, until a girl slides in possessively beside Alex and plants a kiss on his shapely lips. Time to adios and find her friends. Brandon’s a no-show. Mel has had it with a social life designed by Fluttr swipes.
“I just wish there was a way to weed out the profiles of people who aren’t interested in a meaningful relationship,” I said. “Or people who say they’re interested in a meaningful relationship, but really aren’t.”
“Like people who ghost out of nowhere after weeks of pointless messages,” Lia added.
“Or people who stand you up,” Dani said, with a swig of her martini.
“Or people who send you dick pics,” I said.
Dani cringed. “I’ve never had that problem.”
“Of course you haven’t. You only date women.” “I love how they’re always non sequiturs, too,” Lia said.
“Like you’re just texting about the weather and out of nowhere—surprise! It’s a penis. What’s the point?”
“It’s pure exhibitionism,” Dani said.
“It’s borderline abusive.”
“An abundance of Coors Light,” karaoke, and questionable street food later, Mel wakes up, alone. She’s queasy and worn out. Suddenly, a “Fluttr alert. NEW DIRECT MESSAGE FROM JOE. Hope springs eternal – maybe Joe is one of the good guys out there.
Feeling hopeful, I tapped the notification to bring up the message. And there, in all its swollen, veiny shame, was a blurry close-up of Joe’s dick.
Mel has had enough and she’s not going to take it anymore. How can a woman pluck out the weeds in the meadow of online dating in the Big Apple? Why is it impossible to find out before dating someone whether he’s a frog or a potential prince. And voila! “That’s how JerkAlert was born.”
Not surprisingly, women love JerkAlert. It goes viral as hundreds, then thousands of women share the dirty, sad details of the jerks they dated on Fluttr. Watching Melanie sort out the highs and lows of a life that suddenly spirals into a kaleidoscope of coding and nibbles from West Coast high tech companies, all the while juggling her job, her friends, and a burgeoning relationship with Alex, is so much fun. I couldn’t put down How to Hack a Heartbreak. Mel and Alex’s HEA is a heartwarming part of the ending but it’s only part of Mel’s coming-into-her-own; she’s a woman in full bloom, raising up other women in the process. As with Mary Tyler Moore, we wave goodbye to Mel knowing that she’s ‘going to make it on her own’, surrounded by love and laughter and a new self-created (or should I say ‘coded’) life!