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)!