Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
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.

Sarah's sophomore novel, Fixing Delilah, was one of my favorite books back in 2011. Therefore, when The Book of Broken Hearts ended up in mailbox, I was beyond excited. For one, I adore the cover (it's even prettier in person), and the summary made it sound like the kind of contemporary I live for. Unfortunately, The Book of Broken Hearts and I didn't mesh nearly as well as I had hoped.

My main problem with this book laid with Jude, the main character. I wanted to like Jude, I really did. I mean, it was awesome to see how instead of having the "perfect, carefree summer" she dedicated her time to helping her dad fix up his old bike. Plus it was heartbreaking to see her and her family deal with the pain of her father's early set Alzheimer's. However, at the same time, she got on my nerves. She seemed a lot younger than a recent high school graduate. Plus I couldn't really understand her never ending fear of befriending a Vargas...it was just a little too much for me, and I couldn't stand how she would continually walk all over Emilio because of it.  Basically, while I admired Jude in most areas and rooted for her and her family, I just didn't particularly like her. I did, however, adore Emilio Vargas. He reminded me of one of the boy's from Simone Elkes's Perfect Chemistry trilogy, which instantly earned him points with me. I loved his humor, and how he never failed to get Jude going but at the same time be there for her as well as her family. He was just such a sweet guy. I also enjoyed reading about Emilio's family as well as Jude's....both contained some pretty awesome people, and a big shout goes out to Jude's dad.

I give major props to Sarah Ockler for tackling the topic of Alzheimer's in The Book of Broken Hearts. I felt she did a great job of making this aspect of the plot believable as well as relatable for people who had had family members or friends go through the same ordeal. It constantly pulled on my heartstrings to see Jude's dad deteriorate right before my eyes, and even though I knew it wasn't possibly, I still wanted a miracle to happen for him. I also enjoyed the addition of Jude and Emilio's friendship. It was fun to see it bloom. Plus it made Jude a little bit more likable, in my opinion. The ending, though, was my favorite part. I'll admit I had a hard time getting through some of this book based on my feelings towards Jude, but the last chapter made me just adore this book a whole lot more, weirdly enough. There was just something magical and uplifting about it but at the same time just a wee bit heartbreaking.

In all, while The Book of Broken Hearts and I had had our ups and downs, I still suggest it to fans of the contemporary genre. It does have some really great little parts to it, and if you like Jude more than I did, I'm pretty sure you'll end up loving it.

Grade: B 

The Book of Broken Hearts (Amazon, BN, Goodreads) is now out!

Source: ARC provided by Publisher


  1. I can understand where you're coming from. I'm really picky about characters too. I have to be able to connect with them in some way and if their personality annoys me, it will certainly affect how much I enjoy what may otherwise be a great story. Great review.

  2. I love the cover for this and definitely want to look at it in person but I also really disliked Jude and struggled to read this. At least the family dynamics were interesting!

    1. Glad to know that I wasn't alone with the whole Jude thing. Most reviews I've read people seemed to adore her, so I was starting to think I was alone with this.


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