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Love Is the Drug

Love Is the Drug

A Novel

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Wonderfully empathic, smartly comic, and wickedly insightful, this captivating debut novel maps the progress of an unforgettable young woman endeavoring to mend a broken heart and find salvation.

"Hello, my name is Tyler Tracer and I am falling apart. I am twenty-four years old, and I have no ability whatsoever to choose an occupation or a hair color."


Meet Tyler, the singularly irresistible and straight-talking heroine of Sarahbeth Purcell's touching first novel. An incurable romantic, Tyler's chief obsessions include music, list-making -- and David, the man who broke her heart. Despite an exhaustively detailed list of reasons for why she should just forget about David once and for all -- including (but by no means limited to) chronic illness, terminal self-absorption, and geographical inaccessibility -- Tyler remains hopelessly hooked on him. Hence the wild ride she embarks upon in the wake of her father's death, a ride that takes her from her hometown in Tennessee to sunny Los Angeles, all in hopes of saving David from his ominous take on life.
This hilarious and dark cross-country expedition finds our young heroine negotiating the universally perilous terrain of sex, love, and relationships with uncommon verve, wit, and more than a little recklessness. Along the way, Tyler discovers, among other things, the uniquely redemptive powers of roadkill, the fact that enduring love tends to blossom in the most unexpected and unlikeliest places, and, above all, that nothing can stop her from making her own rules and mapping out her own life. Not even herself.
A joyous triumph of a debut to which readers will respond with a sense of instant recognition, Sarahbeth Purcell's Love Is the Drug spins a story of bold living and loving that crackles with energy and innovation.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743476164 | 
  • March 2005
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Rules

I'm in a Rite Aid in the Valley and Peter Cetera is playing. I am singing along while I'm in line buying exactly three postcards, a bottle of Evian, a lighter, some butter, and a metal-barreled round hairbrush. And I know the fucking words to "The Glory of Love." Every single one of them. Okay, so Karate Kid II was overrated. But Peter Cetera was a genius in a bad Eighties bomber jacket, singing the theme song. I saw Cetera once at a carnival. His wife looks like you would think Peter Cetera's wife would look. Like a bleached-blonde California silicone-enhanced ditz twenty years his junior. But, bless you,... see more

Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1) David claims that, "The nature of beauty is transient" (42). What does he mean by this? This definition is convenient for David: since beauty has an expiration date he will never have to trouble himself to seek it. Do you think Tyler shares this opinion? Does she think something beautiful, like love, can be non-perishable? Or does she believe that it's worth finding even if it will expire? How does her opinion change over the course of the novel?
2) Why is David so obsessed with his video game (53)? Tyler thinks that David, "likes things that doesn't really exist"(12). Why does she form this opinion of him? Is it true of her as well? Does she want a fantasy boyfriend instead of a real man? Tyler seems very sensitive to the way in which people create fantasies and fabricate feeling, even in their most intimate moments. She knows she does this herself, and says of sex with David, "Sometimes I wish it was all as good as it probably sounds to the lawn maintenance men outside trimming the shrubs"(25). Why does Tyler indulge David's fantasies and her own? Are there other instances in this novel where fantasy clashes with reality?
3) The ninth reason Tyler cannot be with David is that, "He lives across the country and doesn't want me to be here with him anymore and does not wish to move to the south, where I live" (47). How does Tyler's sense of the geographic gulf that separates her from David reflect their emotional separation? Th see more

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