The Book of Broken Hearts
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: May 21st 2013
by Simon Pulse
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.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster for review-
Stories about Alzheimer’s disease are so heartbreaking. It’s such an evil, merciless disease that you can rarely see coming or do anything to stop it. When it hits so young like Jude’s father, it’s even more of a shock. Yes this is an emotional read, but it’s also full of happy moments, romance, and hope.
The Book of Broken Hearts is both an emotional foray into the effects of Alzheimer’s on a family, as well as a sweet love story. After her father is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, all Jude wants to do is help him remember his happiest days. She’s hoping against all hope that fixing up his Harley will fix everything and bring him back. Finding someone to fix it on time and affordably is a challenge, though, so she can’t refuse when a Vargas offers, even though she made a pact with her sisters to stay away from that family. A family that has broken two of her sisters’ hearts.
This gives us a sort of forbidden love story where Jude finds herself falling for Emilio, but the pact and her sisters warnings are making her wary. The pact did annoy me just a tad. I felt like her reasons for not giving him a chance were cowardly. It’s unfair that he has to pay for his brothers’ messes, but mostly I felt she was using the pact as an excuse to not put herself out there. On the other hand, I do see where she was coming from. Her family is very close-knit and already dealing with a tragic disease, not wanting to chance more heartache on top of that is understandable. Nevertheless, a romance does bloom and it’s sweet and fun and charged with insecurities stemming from both her conscience and that of new-found love. I appreciated how gradual it progressed, with them slowly opening up to each other. It also balanced the more emotional parts of the story perfectly, while never outright taking over.
With a large family on top of a few additional side characters, there are quite a few faces that we meet throughout. That being said, it impressed me how three dimensional they all were. We get backgrounds for almost all characters that cements their personalities and allows us to understand their motives. I also quite enjoyed the audiobook which was narrated perfectly with authentic accents that really brought them all to life. In addition to character development, the relationships between characters – especially the family dynamics – are full of heart.
Even though it has some heavy emotional content at times, I found it to be an overall refreshing and positive story. It’s about learning to live in the moment; to not dwell on how things were, but to make the best of the hand you are dealt. It’s the kind of book that can easily be recommended to just about anyone.