“Look at those heart-shaped book pages on the cover,” I thought when I picked up The Book of Broken Hearts. “This looks cute! And the back cover mentions kissing! This should be a light read that will definitely not make me cry!”
BE WARNED! I was wrong! While Sarah Ockler’s The Book of Broken Hearts is many things–amazing, wonderful, hilarious–”a light read” is not one of them. I sobbed like a baby (well, a baby who knows how to read) in the last 1/3 of the book, but I don’t regret reading it.
So if you’re ready for a good cry, you might be wondering what the book is about. Jude Hernandez is helping her dad restore his old motorcycle, and that’s where her troubles start. Her dad’s dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s and Jude’s sure that restoring the bike will be just the thing to help him. Unfortunately, their mechanic ends up being Emilio Vargas, one of the notorious Vargas boys. Jude’s sisters have had bad experiences with Vargas boys in the past, and a long time ago they made Jude swear to never, ever get involved with one of them.
But now Emilio’s around, and he’s fixing the bike and flirting with Jude and not wearing a shirt half the time. What’s Jude supposed to do? Just not fall for a guy who fixes motorcycles, for God’s sake? Yeah, right.
But even without worrying about her sisters, dealing with her dad’s health is a lot for Jude to handle. And here’s where I sort of lost it (and by “lost it” I mean I cried a lot). Although the stuff with Emilio is definitely swoony (I mentioned the motorcycle fixing, right?), this is not a light-hearted romantic comedy by any means. It’s a very realistic and very upsetting depiction of what it’s like to deal with a truly horrible disease, and Sarah Ockler never glosses over the horrors of Alzheimer’s.
-I may not have mentioned this earlier, what with all the crying and sobbing, but The Book of Broken Hearts is actually super hilarious. Jude is a really funny narrator. There’s one moment that is often referred to as The Great Tampon Incident, which isn’t a funny scene but it’s still a great combination of words that we don’t get to see often enough.
-I love any book that features lots of sister interaction (Little Women, anyone?), and this one was no exception. Although Jude and her sisters have complicated relationships, it’s clear that they really care about each other and their parents.
-The relationship between Jude and her father was so, so sweet and heartbreaking.
-I know I keep mentioning the sad parts, but there’s a real “grab life by the metaphorical balls” theme to The Book of Broken Hearts. I finished it feeling inspired and excited.
What about you? Do you love Sarah Ockler too? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.