Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Book of Broken Hearts

Book:  The Book of Broken Hearts
Author:  Sarah Ockler
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Date:  Available now
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A+

When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

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.

Initial Reaction
The Book of Broken Hearts broke my heart……and it hurts so good!!

Cover Story
Even though this cover screams “teen romance”, I really like it.  I don’t think it manages to capture the depth of this book though.  It made me think this was going to be a cute, fun little romance book and it was SO MUCH BETTER than that!  I guess they were going for a visual that captures the title and this one does.  And there are no people kissing!

What’s the Story?
I thought The Book of Broken Hearts was going to be about the little sister going for the little brother in the family of heartbreakers and of course, many things would happen and in the end, they would live happily ever after.

It is NOTHING like that.  Because it is so much more.  The romance part of this book is actually just a small part of the wonderfulness that is found in this story.  This book is about family, relationships, friends, finding oneself and looking for joy in the midst of tragedy.

Here’s the real deal:  Jude’s father has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.  It is the summer after her senior year and she is caring for him during the summer.  She finds an old motorcycle and he starts telling her stories about when he was young and used to ride it.  They decide to restore it.  She finds a mechanic who is pretty inexpensive but who also happens to be a Vargas.  The 2 older brothers in the Vargas family broke the hearts of 2 of the Hernandez sisters.  Jude swore a blood oath with her sisters that they would all stay away from the Vargas boys.  Herein lies the problem.

It would have been easy to write the novel with this problem being the focus.  But instead, Sarah Ockler has written a gem of a novel where the focus is on the more important things:  Jude’s relationship with her father, her mother and her sisters. The progression of her father’s disease and all its implications.  Jude’s place in the household and among her sisters.  Finding one’s voice.  The many different ways that someone’s heart can be broken.

Honestly, the relationship with Emilio could almost be seen as a subplot.  But it is really more than that as well.  Emilio is a wonderful character and he sticks by Jude, helping with her father and being someone she can lean on when things get tough.  But the real focus of this novel is on Jude and how she grows and changes as a result of dealing with her father and his illness. 

One thing I loved about this novel was the beautiful portrait that Sarah Ockler painted of a father and his daughter.  Just thinking about it now has my eyes tearing up and I have to say that I cried a good deal while reading this novel.  Some of it was sad crying but much of it was a bittersweet emotional crying because I was so touched by the beautiful moments between Jude and Papi and I knew that soon he wouldn’t remember any of them. 

In many ways, this is also a coming of age novel.  Jude has to grow up quickly in order to deal with her father and what he is going through.  This means she has to re-examine her place as the baby sister in the family and it was thrilling to see her work through everything and finally assert herself and find her own voice.

This novel was so, so many things, but more than anything, it was a beautiful story.  I’m not sure how Sarah Ockler managed to squeeze so many wonderful stories into this one novel and actually do justice to each one, but somehow she did. This novel touched me in so many ways and it made me think a lot about my own family relationships.  And the best part is that, as the reader, I came out on the other side of this novel as a changed person.

The Soundtrack

Songbird by Eva Cassidy

The next 2 songs are especially for Papi.  I love you, Papi!!

Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf

Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf

I’ll Remember by Madonna

I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan

Our Lives by The Calling

Runaway by Mat Kearney

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is A+.  This book was so full of wonderfulness that I don’t think this review did it justice.  This is one of those books that just touches you so deeply that years from now, you will find yourself thinking about moments from it.  Go read it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  I did not receive any compensation, financial or otherwise, for this review.  Not even a restored motorcycle for an awesome road trip.

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