Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Book of Broken Hearts - Sarah Ockler (Review)

The Book of Broken Hearts Sarah Ockler book cover
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Source/Format: Gifted by Hannah || Hardcover

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong? (from Goodreads)

It has been quite some time since I read a book that moved me as deeply as The Book of Broken Hearts did. The novel has all the elements that I adore in my favorite contemporary novels -- a girl who is just trying to figure it all out, a family situation that might be less than ideal, and just a touch of romance to spice it all up.

Jude's father has Alzheimer's and Jude thinks that helping him restore his vintage motorcycle will stop the disease from taking over. Right off the bat, I want to say how much I admire the way Ockler depicted the course of Alzheimer's. One of my grandfathers also went through it, and to see it play out for Jude almost exactly like it did for me and my family was both sad and pretty cool (since it was authentic). I can only imagine how she felt watching her dad, the one strong man of her life, deteriorate, and it broke my heart.

But even through her sadness and confusion, I loved Jude. Her thoughts were hilarious, particularly when she made up what Pancake (the family dog) would say in certain situations. Her determination to "save" her father by getting his motorcycle fixed was admirable (even though the attempt is, obviously) futile. She clearly loves her family, in spite of feeling neglected or overwhelmed or "under" her sisters.

Her relationship with her family is, I'd say, my favorite part of this novel.  She and her dad are like two peas in a pod! They have a unique understanding of each other, mostly because Jude is spending her entire summer with him. Just watching their interactions made me miss my own dad! Then there's Jude and her mom, where Jude often feels sorry for her mother having to work so hard and do so much. A highlight of this novel is also her relationship with her sisters! Their bond is quite strong, and similar to my bond with my sisters, so that was pretty cool to see it mirrored in a book.

Of course, to restore a motorcycle requires manpower. In this story, it comes in the form of Emilio Vargas... who so happens to belong to the family that Jude and her sisters have sworn against falling in love with. He's a bit rough around the edges, oozing charm and charisma, and flirting like nobody's business! It's hard not to fall in love with him though, because it slowly gets revealed that he's more than just that -- he's a good son, a great friend and possesses a heart of gold.

The Book of Broken Hearts was a book that came at the right time for me, thanks to Kelly's suggestion we read it together! The resolution unfolded a touch too quickly, but overall, it's got a great rhythm to the story. Best endorsement I can give this one? I couldn't put it down once I'd started it and wound up finishing it in one sitting (at 3AM)!

20 comments:

  1. I love books with main characters that have a great bond with their family. This is because I have the same with my family, so it's always a nice thing when the family is present in a YA book. I have wanted to read this book for months and I must fix that soon - especially since you stayed up until 3 AM to finish this. It's been a long time since I had that myself! And Emilio sounds very swoonworthy. Charming & flirty is definitely my type, lol.

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    1. I highly recommend The Book of Broken Hearts if you're looking for a stay-up-until-3AM kind of read! I just could not put it down, honestly. The family relationships were amazing, and Emilio was an additional bonus ;)

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  2. I've always loved this cover ... so pretty! And it sounds like a really good book. I'm not sure what it is about Alzeimers, but I love books about the issue. Have you read Lisa Genova's Still Alice? It's from Alice's POV who is developing Alzeimers. VERY good. It's not YA but I think you'd like it. I'll have to add this one to my list!

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    1. This cover is GORGEOUS in person. It's a really good book, with awesome elements - family relationships, sisterhood, a swoony boy, an emotional story. And I think you're going to like it!

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  3. I've read Sarah Ockler's previous novels and I can't believe I haven't read this one yet since it seems like such a great book! I love how Ockler writes about parent-child relationships so realistically. Emilio sounds cute, too! :)

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    1. I've not read any others from Ockler, but I clearly have to remedy that this year! You should definitely read this one, as you're going to love the relationship Jude has with her father.

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  4. This was one of my favorite books of 2013. Although oddly enough I didn't like the romance at all, but I thought the rest of it was so strong it didn't matter. I'm glad you mentioned Pancake, the things Jude came up with him thinking cracked me up. Great review!

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    1. Yes! I think that the other elements of this book -- in particularly, the father-daughter relationship and the sisterhood - are extremely strong. They certainly overshadow Jude's budding romance, though I still loved that anyway.

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  5. I enjoyed this one and I agree with you about the family dynamic being so great. It kind of made the story, for me.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. I rarely encounter such a great family dynamic in books, so it was a breath of fresh air to read this one. It was honestly surprising how invested I became in Jude, her father and her family.

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  6. Obviously, I love SFF. But one of the best things about a really well done Contemp is that you can read it in a sitting! How fun!

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    1. I really hope you get a chance to read this one, Lisa. I really think you'd like it! It's such a well-written, extremely moving contemporary novel.

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  7. I had forgotten about the cute dog in this is! Great review. This was one of my favorite contemporary YA novels of 2013.

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    1. Pancake is ADORABLE in this book, as narrated by Jude in her mind. I'm glad to hear it was one of your favorites from last year!

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    1. ME TOO. I was nervous, knowing that almost everyone whose opinion I trusted loved it, but I ended up absolutely LOVING it.

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  9. Oh what the heck. My first comment didn't save.
    Anywayyyy
    So happy you loved this one! I really did too. One of my favorites of not only 2013 but of all time. It moved me and I connected with it more than I ever anticipated. Sarah Ockler got me to laugh AND cry!

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    1. Oh boo, sorry to hear about your first comment! Thank you for commenting again.

      I'm so happy to hear that you loved this as much as I did! I remember reading your review, and being super eager to start this book. I definitely went through an emotional roller coaster with this one.

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  10. So happy you loved this one! It was one of my favorites from 2013!

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    1. I'm happy to hear that I loved one of your favorites! I was so excited when I realized that I definitely loved this one too :)

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