Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts

THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS
Sarah Ockler
Contemporary Young Adult
352 pages
Simon Pulse
Available May 21st
Source: Received from publisher via Edelweiss

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.


MY THOUGHTS 
Both poignant and funny, with a focus on relationships both familial and romantic, The Book of Broken Hearts pleases on a variety of levels, giving us a taste of reality without any added drama for effect. What we get when we crack the spine of this book is a glimpse at life – a glorious collage of good moments and bad, heartfelt conversations and witty banter, and old doors closing as new ones open wide to beckon Jude through. There's plenty of pain as well as many a scene between her and her father that make us tear up even though we know Jude would despise our sympathy, but never once does Ms. Ockler heighten tensions or toss in layers of drama unnecessary to Jude's journey just to play on our emotions, instead every minute with Jude is one we value, and one that's a vital piece of the Hernandez puzzle we long to see in all its stunning completeness.

Jude delights with her sass from the very first page, an internal monologue in which she questions the intelligence of wearing her current wedgie-causing shorts in an attempt to give off a biker chick vibe immediately causing a grin to paint our faces, something we'll soon learn is a common occurrence throughout. While her ability to make us laugh comes smoothly and easily, her very real fear for her father's worsening condition as his Alzheimer's rapidly progresses echoes in her every smile, and we can't help but long to wrap our arms around her and squeeze tight. She handles her father's less lucid moments beautifully, hating and cursing his disease but loving him through it, and basking in the moments when the Alzheimer's deigns to return her father to her.

One of the highlights of Jude's character is her lack of judgement, the painful past of two of her sisters leading to the vilification of the entire Vargas clan, but despite that history she opens herself up to Emilio and decides to trust him with things she doesn't even share with her own family. She's not one to keep secrets from him or hold on to her anger when they have an argument, and thankfully Emilio is much the same way, both of them communicating to the best of their ability instead of bottling up all their emotions and simply waiting to pop. Their romance is definitely of the slow burn variety, and their sweet, simple moments together are made all the more significant given the seriousness of Jude's father's condition, his episodes bringing clarity to both them and us as to how important it is to accept and appreciate the brevity of life.

Though we don't get to know Emilio quite as well as we might like, this story as a whole is a highly enjoyable one with a strong emphasis on family, something that is all too rare in young adult fiction. Ms. Ockler has a gift for writing quirky, hilarious young women, and Jude is absolutely no exception, making us giggle-snort in a most undignified manner even as we wipe away a tear the chapter after. A dog with what can only be described as a bunny fixation, a Holy Trinity of older sisters, and a sexy, motorycle-building love interest solidify this read as a one-sit wonder, easily devoured in just a few hours.


Rating: 4/5


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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review. I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

45 comments:

  1. This I love "Ms. Ockler has a gift for writing quirky, hilarious young women,"
    Still, I was never interested in this book mainly for cover reasons, I couldn't figure out what this book would be about and so I ended up not being interested :)

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    1. You'd really like this one Danny. It's an "us" book:)

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  2. A god with a bunny fixation and a guy who builds..ok

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    1. Hehe. God could have a bunny fixation too I guess:)

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  3. Ooh, sounds good! I will admit I've yet to read any of Sarah Ockler's books despite the rave reviews for them, but I think I would like to give them a go sometime if I can bring myself to go outside my comfort zone into the land of contemporary. Because I like quirky and hilarious protags! And your last line of this review pretty much seals it for me that this would be an enjoyable read, heh. Thanks for this review, Jenny!!

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    1. I read Bittersweet and really loved that one too Aylee, her books are just fun reads. I'm a paranormal girl through and through, but I will always read Sarah's contemporaries!

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  4. So glad you loved The Book of Broken Hearts too Jenny! This was one of those reads where I only intended to read a few chapters, but couldn't stop once I'd started. I adored Jude's character and her family, there were definitely some teary scenes which I really appreciated. And Emilio *sigh* I think he definitely made it to my top fictional crushes list! I wouldn't mind jumping on the back of a motorcycle with him! ;)Fab review!

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    1. SAME! I was all "I'll just start this one tonight" and then 3am rolls around and I'm still going ONE MORE CHAPTER! And yes, give me an Emilio please:)

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  5. Jenny, you writer of magical reviews! Ockler, Dessen, Zarr... those are generally authors I try to stay away from at all costs, possibly because I'm heartless, heh. But you make me want to read even that!
    I do believe I'd like Jude from the start and I can't believe Emilio and she actually communicate! It's so rare and wonderful.
    Oh, fine. I'm adding this to my tbr and I'm off to see where best to preorder a copy. *glares at Jenny*

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    1. I haven't read Dessen or Zarr, so I don't know anything about their stories, but I do love Sarah Ockler's books! Both of the ones I've read have really focused on family in addition to a romance, and I love that about them. Plus, her heroines make me laugh out loud when they do something highly embarrassing:)

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  6. I agree completely, Jenny! I wanted more of Emilio, but I still really enjoyed this one and loved the strength of the relationships in this one. It isn't my favorite Ockler, but I think it's her best by far. Lovely review, dear!

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    1. YEAH! More Emilio for sure:) So glad you liked this one too Keertana!

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  7. Jude sounds like my kind of gal! Sassy, caring (boo to Alzheimer's! What a horrible disease.), and willing to get a wedgie in the name of being a badass. I have this one on my Kindle (see, here's the problem with ebooks...I FORGET ABOUT THEM!! No cover=what am I reading?) and can't wait to read it!

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    1. Right? Being a biker badass takes sacrifice! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Mary:)

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  8. I absolutely loved this one too, in fact I think my review might be coming up soon as well. I love all her books though so it wasn't a surprise that this was fabulous too!

    Beautiful review!!

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    1. WOO HOO! I just fell in love with Jude. I wanted to hug her and help her with her dad:(

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  9. Gahhhhh why am I finding such a soft spot for contemps these days?!?! I feel as though I've abandoned my post of hatred haha in all seriousness though, I'm glad to have seen a review for this because I wasn't sure it was for me. Now I am, and I'll need it. Stat. Great review ;)

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    1. I think you'll like it Melissa! It's got a little bit of everything, and any book that can make me laugh and tear up at the same time is a winner:)

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  10. I have yet to read a book by Ockler. I agree that 'family' is lacking in YA, most of the time the parents aren't there or they are portrayed in a bad light. It's nice to know that that's not the case here. Jude sounds like a wonderful mc, and a "sexy, motorycle-building love interest" sounds perfect to me! Beautiful review. <3

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    1. All books should have sexy, motorcycle-building love interests. Am I right? Hope you give Sarah a try Renu!

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  11. Somehow this book sounds like everything I though about it came true. I mean it sounds like really interesting and gripping read. I'm so happy that once we get to see family as it's mostly just high school and friends. Great review Jenny :)

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    1. It was a fabulous read Tanja! Loved it:)

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  12. Wait. There's a dog in this book? What does it say about me that that (and the love interest) is what makes me most interested in this book? o.O

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    1. Yes! A dog with a bunny obsession! I loved him so much:)

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  13. Yay! I am so happy you liked this one. I need to get my hands on a copy of this book, because I think it will make for a great summer read. Jude sounds like a character that I will love. I really liked Ockler's writing style when I read Twenty Boy Summer, so I am glad to hear this novel was just as entertaining. Great review, Jenny!

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    1. It's definitely a perfect summer read Christina! Serious, but not scarred-for-life serious, with a bit of romance and some family drama. So good:)

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  14. I've been meaning to read this one forever! It sounds like a 'me' read for summer! I must make it a priority along with finally reading some Sarah Dessen!

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  15. Loved your review Jenny! I only read one book from this author and really enjoyed her writing. I think I could really like this one too.

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  16. When the school year winding down and my list of "to-do things" gets longer and longer, a nice summer read is very appealing. I do like Ockler's writing and didn't know she has a book coming out soon. I'll be on the look out for it!

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  17. Oh I love Sarah Ockler's books so much! Glad to hear you're a fan of this one. I love to "giggle-snort in a most undignified manner" so this is probably going to be a HUGE hit with me. I also love slow burn romances, and the fact that Jude and Emilio actually open up to each other is wonderful. I can't wait to read this one! Fabulous review, Jenny :-)

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  18. For some reason I thought it would be a very cute summery contemporary but with the words "Broken Hearts" in the title I should have guessed. Still I can't wait to read it! With the way you describe Jude, I think she would turn out to be my favorite character!

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  19. Jenny! I'm so happy that you loved this one too. I loved it so much, that it's probably one of my favorite books of this year. Sarah Ockler is really good at writing characters that are just full of life and like you said, I loved that she focused so much on family life because it is so rare in YA.
    Wonderful review, Jenny! Mine should be going up on Friday and I'm excited to share it with all of you because all I did was gush in it!

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  20. I have a dog with a squirrel fixation. Perhaps I could really commiserate. :) This sounds so good. Not liking the wiping of the tear, but you knew you had me at "motorycle-building love interest". I'm also glad to see it emphasize family. You are right! So often it is absent from YA. Yep, needs this one.

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  21. I loved that sentence about her wedgie and wanting to have a biker look. I would love to meet the squirrel fixated dog as well. This sounds like a lovely summer read, I am all about funny and I can do a bit of poignant as well.

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  22. Isn't Sarah Ockler just the best when you are looking for an emotional read? I really love the stories that leave you teary and emotionally involved with the characters. This is one of my must read vacation books. Thanks for your review:)

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  23. See, I know Sarah Ockler is going to break my heart so I usually avoid her books. She is going to break my heart, I can tell from your review. Call me a chicken. Cluck-Cluck. I just don't want to read something I know is going to make me cry!

    Heather

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  24. Alzheimer's is so sad! My book club read Still Alice and it was a tearjerker. But I love contemporaries and family stories, so I'm adding this one.

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  25. I've enjoyed all of Ockler's books that I've read and this one sounds like it'll be great too. They seem to feature a slow burning romance but even better, there's an emphasis on friendship and family.

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  26. I have never read one of Ockler's books but I love the sound of the character and the complex dynamics of the family, and history with her sister. I love that you said you tear up even though you know she wouldn't like it. Wonderful review Jenny!

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  27. Oh yes, I enjoyed this one!! There was such a perfect romance element weaved through the family-focused nature of the story. I really love Sarah's writing. =)

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  28. This book sound really promising. Thanks for the review. I will be adding it to my TBR list.

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  29. I've loved most of Sarah's books, she's a very good writer. So I think I might love this book. I hope to pick up a copy one of these days. I love that she includes family so much in her books, that's a big bonus!

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  30. This book was not a winner for me, partly due to my expectations of a more romantic story I think, so I'm very glad to read your measured thoughtful response.

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  31. Sarah Ockler book? A main character with sass? Slow burn romance? I'm sold ;)

    Fabulous review!

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