Broke Heart Blues is a story about how some adults, who are unhappy in their lives, wish to relive their adolescence. They go to great lengths to make their adolescence seem better than it really was. A group of people gather for their 30th high school reunion and reminisce about a boy named John Reddy Heart.
John Reddy Heart was the boy that every girl between the ages of twelve to twenty was in love with. He was a great athlete and sexy in a very casual sort of way. He worked with his hands. He was great with wood and working on cars. He had come to town when he was eleven, with his mother and younger siblings. He was the outsider and had a temperamental personality. No one in the town knew how hard he had it at home. After he is accused of a murder, he leaves town and no one sees him again. The story goes on to tell us, John is now a fix it all man and has moved on from his past. It is known that his mother, Dahilia, was an alcoholic and did sexually abuse him. He also had the pressure of raising his younger siblings. As the rest of the town gathers for the reunion, they hope and speculate that John will return to town. He doesn't return and the town plans another reunion in ten years, hoping he will come back.
Joyce Carol Oates creates a classical story on the bad boy, that the girls in town want. He is the scarred young man a woman wants to fix. He has a tragic background and no one in the town cares to find out why he is the way he is. John finally moves on with his life, while the people still in the small town, aren't willing to move on. They seem to want to relive the past rather than fast the future. This story is moving on so many different levels and leaves the reader wanting more. A true classic Joyce Carol Oates piece of work.