Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

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I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah OcklerThe Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon Pulse on May 21st 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Simon & Schuster
Buy on Amazon

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.

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.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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32 Responses to “Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler”

  1. Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog)

    I read this recently and really liked it too. It was the first YA that I’ve ever read where a parent had Alzheimer’s, and I thought that was totally unique and really heartbreaking. I wasn’t 100% a fan of the romance in this book, but the relationship that Jude has with her dad and sisters made up for that for me 🙂 Also I love Sarah Ockler’s writing. Great review!!

    • Giselle

      I was annoyed about her reasons for not giving him a chance so the romance was not an instant hit with me either, but the family relationships are def. the best part!

    • Giselle

      Thanks, Maya! And me neither but I have read an adult book about Alzheimer’s – Still Alice – and that one stuck with me for over 3 years now! This one is not as.. haunting. It’s a lot more lightweight.

  2. Keeley

    Thank you for sharing a great review. I will be adding this book to my TBR list, I enjoy books that tackle difficult subjects and look forward to seeing what this book has to offer.

  3. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    I don’t usually read contemporary but maybe I’ll try this one. I like that there seems to be a big focus on family, especially a very complicated family. I also don’t mind emotional content, so maybe this one will surprise me?

    • Giselle

      The main focus is family in this one. And it’s not overly emotional either it’s a pretty well balanced read in that aspect. I hope you like it if you do give it a try! 🙂

  4. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    IT sounds heart breaking. Alzheimer’s is something that our family hasn’t had to deal with luckily, and I can’t imagine the pain the person and family goes through. I’ll keep this in mind, great review.

    • Giselle

      Alzheimer’s is so devastating! Thankfully we haven’t had it in the family either but I read Still Alice (which is an adult book) and it still haunts me to this day!

  5. Rose

    that line of not to dwell on things that happened I thought : “It’s not the dwell on dreams and forget to live” Albus Dumbledore

  6. Amanda @ Book Badger

    I’ve heard some really good things about this book and your review just adds to that list. I haven’t tried any Sarah Ockler books as of yet, I know I know, don’t shoot me, but I do want to try, and this might just be a book worth trying out, so thank you for the fantastic review Giselle! 😀

    • Giselle

      haha no shooting – I actually had only read one other of hers myself. I do want to read her 20 Boy Summer book it seems to be the most popular.

  7. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    Is this the one you heard on audio? Damn, I didn’t know this was an illness book. I am such a baby about things like this. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book and I already bought the audiobook so I’ll be listening to it soon.

    • Giselle

      Yeah this is the one that had the narrator with the Spanish accent – and I know you hate accents, but this is not a fake sounding accent or anything I’m pretty sure the narrator is really Spanish. If not she should get a medal! >.<

  8. Alexa

    I really want to read this book. I love this author and need to read more of her books. I really like emotional contemporary reads so I’m glad this delivers while also having that light hearted romance.

    Thanks for the great review!

  9. Rashika

    I am glad to hear you enjoyed this, Giselle!! 🙂

    I read this book last year and I absolutely adored it. Honestly though, I kind of understood the pact. I hated how it held her back but I understood why she was so set on following it. I mean she is the youngest of the bunch and personally, I felt like she didn’t want to let her sisters down by dating a Vargas seeing how they had suffered so much heartbreak at the hands of them.

    It’s was not Emilio’s fault and I didn’t think he deserved to be blamed for the actions of his brothers but sometimes I think we have a tendency to blame the wrong people anyway (which sucks).

    Also is it just me or were you a tad bit curious about why the Vargas brothers did what they did? I mean, they don’t seem all that evil which I appreciate but at the same time I was kind of curious as to why the two of them did what they did.

    Anyway, wonderful review as always Giselle!! 🙂

    • Giselle

      Yeah even though I got annoyed I did understand her point of view towards the pact and the Vargas. I think since I wasn’t close with my sister at all at that age I had a harder time relating. And good point about why did they what they did. I actually assumed we would eventually find out when I was in the first half and I just now realized we never did. Maybe the author just wanted to leave it open to interpretation or pass it off as just those things that don’t work out I guess. Glad you liked it too, Rashika! 🙂

  10. brandileigh2003

    Yes, alzeheimer’s stories are heartbreakinng and makes me fear the distant future, but glad to hear that it was a refreshing story along with the emotional parts

  11. Emily

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Giselle! 😀 I’ve not read this one, nor have I heard of it, but it looks pretty good 🙂 I would love to read a story about Alzheimer’s, because I don’t think it is dealt with a lot in YA novels… or at least I’ve not seen many of them! But like you pointed out, I think the reasons Jude stayed away from Emilio seemed a tad cowardly 🙁
    Fantastic review, Giselle!! 😀

  12. Rachel

    I enjoyed this one, too, Giselle. It dealt with a tough and heartbreaking topic realistically. I loved Emilio with his first flash of dimples! I wasn’t in love with the sister’s pact and the lengthy discussions about it. Wonderful review!

  13. Henrietta

    Stories about Alzheimer’s disease often make me cry a lot but it’s wonderful to learn that this one has its happy moments. Now that you mentioned how good the narration is, I’m going to look up the audio version. It seems like Emilio is a great guy and I’d like to get to know a bit more about him. Thanks for letting us know your thoughts, Giselle!

  14. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    I don’t know if I could handle this one. I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least one other book by this author in my Kindle pile, and I definitely want to try it out b/c I’ve only heard good things about her, but developing Alzheimer’s is one of my greatest fears. So maybe I should read it. Hmmm . . .

  15. Larissa

    This book was definitely one of my favorites from last. My grandma has dementia, which is quite alike Alzheimer’s. I was expecting to cry and be able to definitely connect to this story, and I one hundred and fifty percent did. I felt so many different feelings while reading this book. I really do think the whole portrayal of Jude’s father was accurate and heart wrenching.

    The romance was great, though the whole pact thing did annoy me sometimes. It made me want to shake Jude and scream that Emilio was different hehe. Other then that I thoroughly enjoyed the romance thought it was developed beautifully.

    Lovely review! <33