The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler | Book Review

The book of broken hearts by sarah ocklerBook Title/Author: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
: Simon Pulse May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA – Realistic Teen Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Twenty Boy Summer, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!




Jude watched through the years as her much older sisters had their hearts broken by the Vargas brothers and swore she’d never involve herself with a Vargas brother in a pact build on sisterhood. Her older sisters have long since been out of the house and Jude, now a high school graduate, is the only one in the house with her mom and dad and taking care of her dad who is slowly fading away because of an illness. She’s dedicated her whole summer to stay with her dad and help him. When she finds her dad’s old motorcycle from his glory days she sets out to hire a mechanic in hopes that this restoration will help her dad. The mechanic turns out to be the youngest Vargas brother and Jude knows she can’t give into his flirty smiles and good looks — things she knows led to the heartbreak of her sisters. She tries to fight her feelings but it becomes increasingly hard as she grapples with the sweet Vargas brother in front of her and the tear-stained history her sisters shared.

If you saw my top ten books of 2013 so far list, you know that The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler in fact made it on that list! So naturally, I loved it. I read most of it while at the pool and I’m so glad I had sunglasses on during some parts because some big ol’ crocodile tears were forming in my eyes. If you are a fan of contemporary YA — this book NEEDS to be on your list. I mean it. It’s heartfelt, has some amazing characters and deals beautifully with portraying a family in a really tough situation. OH and I will say that I’m not a big swooner over fictional characters but EMILIO…..that’s what I’M talking about.

At first glance, by reading the summary, you might think The Book of Broken Hearts is going to be overly depressing or sad because there is a hint of a sick parent in the book. You’d be wrong. Sure, there were some moments were I thought my heart was going to seize up from the emotion that just rocketed out of this novel but the balance of everything with Jude’s dad and the playful nature of Jude & Emilio’s relationship as well as Papi’s fiesty spirit was PERFECT. It was one of those bittersweet kind of novels for me but never once felt overly sad so if you run away from those types of novels — fear not! You’ll be laughing and swooning and occasionally tearing up with both sad and happy tears — a full range of emotions.

While I LOVED the romance in this novel so much, my favorite aspect of this novel was the focus on the family. This family was one of my FAVORITES hands down in a while. I loved Papi. So much. My heart broke for him as his mind got even more and more lost inside the disease. I LOVED Jude’s attempt to help in her own way and try to fix his beloved motorcycle. I could have listened to Papi tell stories forever about his motorcycle days. He was feisty and felt SO real to me — in his moments of clarity and his moments where the disease took over. I loved that sisterhood was a bit of a big topic in this novel and I could feel Jude’s disconnect because all of her sister’s were so much older  than her. I also loved the way their culture was woven into the novel and I’d love to read more books featuring  families from different cultures.

Sarah Ockler NAILED the ups and downs of having a sick parent and all the emotion that comes with that. I can’t even tell you. While my mom, as you know, had brain cancer rather  than early on set dementia — a lot of my mom’s brain was affected and she slowly through the years lost all of her independence and eventually reverted back to the state of a child. These moments where we watch Papi struggle with these things were  powerful and full of emotion but, even harder, was having to watch it through Jude’s eyes because it’s never natural to have to take care of a parent as if they are a child and still try to grapple with the fact that that person is your parent. So when I watch Jude have to help prevent a meltdown by her dad in a tampon aisle,  I think back to my time of having to help my mom to the bathroom or explain to her for the 5th time in an hour that I was babysitting and didn’t sneak out to go to a party. This book wasn’t surfacey in this aspect and I really appreciated the depth in which we see how an illness like this affects the whole family. One of the most realistic books I’ve encountered in this way!

The playful nature of Jude and Emilio’s relationship, and of the immediate tension when she figures out who he is, was perfect! She KNOWS the Vargas boys are nothing but trouble and heartbreak, and she knows the  pact she made with her sisters, but she starts to be interested in him anyways. I loved how he challenged her to be in the moment & that she needs to keep living and not feel guilty about it. That’s something that is so easy to do — feeling like you can’t keep living your life when someone you love is fighting to live. It’s a strange guilt that I could feel in Jude which made her really easy for me to connect to.

I wholeheartedly loved The Book of Broken Hearts. It’s the kind of book where the emotions I was feeling so vividly rocketed out of me to produce very physical reactions — happy and sad crying, some chuckles and clutching of my chest. It was a beautifully bittersweet story full of unforgettable characters, a sweet romance and pages that begged to be dogeared. I’ve read a lot of books that deal with families in the midst of a crisis like an ill parent but none have been as poignant or special to me as Jude and Papi’s story. It was undoubtedly such an authentic look, through the eyes of a teenager who has to watch her dad fade away,  at how a tragedy like that affects the whole family.



Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you love Papi as much as I did? ONE OF MY FAVE FICTIONAL PARENTS EVER!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Nope,haven’t read it but it’s definitely been on my radar and I think on my Goodreads TBR for awhile (I need to go double check) It sounds like pure perfection and I have to buy it ASAP.

  2. Oh awesome and wonderful! I must admit that I was always drawn back by the cover, which looks so boring, but I should have focused more on the story int his case!

  3. I most definitely need to start reading Sarah Ockler books. They all sound so magical and beautiful, and considering this little beauty made it onto your list of Top Books of 2013, it truly must be amazing. 😀 I love the names of the characters too!
    Fantastic review as usual Jamie. <3

  4. Man, I could use a trip to swoon city myself. I have been reading some crappy male characters, so Emilio looks like he could change by streak of bad luck. The story sounds really interesting, although it reminds me of that movie with Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner, I don’t know why.

  5. I just finished this one yesterday and I absolutely loved it. I agree with everything you said except the romance. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t understand the attraction between Jude and Emilio at all. They were cute together and I really liked how much comfort he provided, but romantically it didn’t click for me. But I think the fact that this is one of my favorite books of the year despite the romance not working speaks to how great of a book it is.

  6. This book….it’s just SO. FREAKING. GOOD. I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  7. I was absolutely take in by this book. It’s a life-changer. Fantastic review. Thanks for sharing.

  8. OK, I read a so-so review on The Book of Broken Hearts and I was super bummed because I was so excited for it. I’m so glad you loved it! This has restored my faith in this book being awesome and totally bumped it up my reading pile. I cannot wait to read about the family, romance, & characters in this story & the struggles they all face. Fabulous review!

  9. I have only ever heard wonderful things about Sarah Ockler’s writing, but if I’m being honest, in keeping with today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, I must admit I’m a little intimidated to read this particular novel. The idea of a daughter slowly watching her father deteriorate from such a devastating illness sounds absolutely heart-breaking and I’m terrified of the emotional toll this one will take on me 🙁 I was a little relieved that this aspect didn’t spoil the novel for you or drag down the overall tone, so I’m going to hesitantly add it to my own TBR list because I have heard so many positive things about it. I also really appreciate books that examine family dynamics in a thoughtful, in-depth way, so I think I would certainly appreciate that aspect of this novel.

    Lovely review, Jamie! You perfectly conveyed your passion for this story and as a result really made me long to read it as well 🙂

  10. I’m a third of the way through this one right now and I am LOVING it. You are so right that the family is just vivid and so perfect. That’s definitely the best part of the novel so far for me. <3

  11. This was my first Ockler and I liked it except for the oath. I just thought that was really odd! But other than that, it was a good story. I love how you were able to relate to it though because it’s always BETTER when there’s something personal about a book, ya know?

  12. I cannot wait to actually have the opportunity to read this book myself. I don’t consider myself a big fan of YA contemporaries, but all the major aspects this book seems to focus on, especially family, as you noted in your review, make me so eager to read it. I really hope that I’m able to love it as much as you did. Wonderful review!


  1. […] she deserves a lot more recognition for her other wonderful books — the latest of which, The Book of Broken Hearts, I […]

  2. […] May Also Like: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny […]

  3. […] Romance – Unearthly series (won’t spoil!) and Eleanor & Park for sure (seriously my heart spasmed over this slow burn romance). Okay and Dmitri and Rose from Vampire Academy. That was like sexual tension I can’t wait to read more of. Oh and Cath and Levi from Fangirl!! Friendship – Honestly Stebbs and Lynn in Not A Drop To Drink or Maddie & Verity in Code Name Verity. Familial — Callie and her dad in Where The Stars Still Shine or Jude and her dad in The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler […]

  4. […] Mentions: The Program, Forgive Me Leonard Peacock, Fangirl, The Book Of Broken Hearts, […]