Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS by Sarah Ockler

Author: Sarah Ockler

Publication date: May 21, 2013

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review

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.


The youngest of four daughters, Jude "Juju" Hernandez has seen her two older sisters get heartbroken by two of the Vargas brothers. Each sister has passed along the Book of Broken Hearts, detailing their heartbreaks and romances while growing up. Juju hasn't experienced the same as them though considering there is a huge age gap and their father now has Alzheimers or what they call "El Demonio." 

Basically, Juju narrates as she fights a growing attraction to a Vargas, tries to deal with her sisters, her own wants, and her father who is slowly deteriorating before her eyes. I was expecting emotions, romance, drama, and family love. I got all those, but not at the caliber that I was anticipating. 

When her father gets worse in his Alzheimers, Juju helps him restore his motorcycle since it is the one thing he actually always remembers with real clarity. In her grief, she believes that with it, her father will magically get better and that they'll joke about his memory that summer later. But she and we know that that won't really be the case. However, they get a mechanic to help and that turns out to be Emilio Vargas, younger brother of the notorious heartbreakers. 

My problem with this book was that I wasn't invested until halfway through or near the end. Not until near the end did I feel interested and as if my heartstrings were pulled. I set the book down multiple times and did the one thing I try to never do: pick up another book. I actually did that a couple times, finishing two books before I even reached halfway with this one. Until I reached closer to the end, I just wasn't interested or pulled in at all. 

The other problem I had was that sometimes Juju really annoyed me. It wasn't necessarily her actions, but her narrating. The two big uh-ohs were: 

1. She "betrayed" her family with Emilio. I love the intrigue of forbidden romances. I was excited to see how it would all play out. I wanted suspense and romance and all the other thrills with fictional forbidden romances. What I got instead was eye rolling remarks from Juju. It seemed too theatrical, in the bad way. 

The day I walked out of Duchess knowing we'd just hired the last of the Vargas brothers, knowing that we'd spend most of the summer together, knowing that we might even become friends. That's the day I'd betrayed my family.

Dun, dun, dunnnn! Or not. I see what the author was going for, but for me, I just eye rolled. What I thought happened was that by obsessing about the fact that they hired Emilio and that he was a Vargas and it was against the oath, Juju ultimately fell for him. Thank you, psychology. She psyched herself into it from all the panicking. She talked about the oath all the time and from what I understood, she wasn't supposed to fall in love with him or date him. They never said anything about hiring somebody for work. Also, your sister got heartbroken at prom and your other one had a broken engagement. It's scarring, I get it (except for your dumped-at-prom sister since she's married). However, it was years ago by DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Don't judge a book by its cover, ladies. So, Juju, you did not "betray" your family. It was your two sisters, one of whom is MARRIED. If she's not over it then she has bigger problems. 

2. She had a "poor me, I'm so lonely, my friends don't caaaare" thing going for her. Cue more eye rolling. Juju, here's some advice that my mom has said before, "It takes two for friendship. One cannot do all the initiating." 

She didn't ask about my parents, Papi's health, the motorcycle.

It's HER night, HER performance, and for once, it's your best friend's night. It is not YOUR time to whine, to think about YOU, or for you to complain about YOUR life. Yeah, your life sucks. However, that does not give you permission to mope about the fact that she didn't ask about the suckitude levels* of your life on HER happy night. I see the point about how she needs her longtime best friend and how the stress of life is affecting her personal life. I just got greatly aggravated at her for her attitude. The fact that I have been dealing with the natural drifting of my best friend and me, I think, also affected my feelings on it. I mourned for their drifting apart because I felt like she could have done more. 
*Yes, there is such a thing has suckitude levels.*

...a thousand times more reprehensible than letting my sisters boss me around or waiting for old friends to call.

Why don't YOU call, Juju? I wished that the friendship between her and Zoe had been more resolved. I felt like I was left hanging. 

Those were the two major issues I had. I think the other one I had popped up more after I read the book and mulled it over. It coincides with the friendship one in the way that Juju focused on herself a whole lot more than I care for a main character to. She cared about her father and claimed that she cared about how she was betraying her family, but since her lack of actual care for others outside of her family was evident, I didn't get to know Emilio more. We found sad things about him, but he says it great below. 

"You ask me why I'm nice to you," he said. "Why, why, why. But you don't ask me stuff that matters. Who I am or where I been. What I see when I look at you. What I want."

The only other thing that I want to warn people about is the use of Spanish words. I know that I always had mixed feelings about them. Sometimes I liked it because it added a feel of where the characters are from, if they translated it then I liked knowing knew foreign words, and I didn't really mind if they added it here and there. Then other times, I didn't like it. If this language, Spanish, was the first language (I'm not just talking about this book), then wouldn't they be speaking that the whole time? I know you have to write in English, but it sometimes takes the feeling of it all away when you add a word or two in there. Sometimes authors will stick in another language and not even translate it, frustrating me because I really don't want to go to Google translate. Thankfully, for me, I just ended a Spanish class this semester (I got an A!) and knew every Spanish word they said in The Book of Broken Hearts while I know others had to go online for it. Some people will love it, some people might not care, and some people will hate it.

While this review may have seemed more negative than positive, it was enjoyable. I slowly became invested with Juju and her family, I cheered her on, and I wanted to sympathetically pat her sisters on the back. If you can stand the few irks I had (which isn't that much), then you won't be disappointed!

Verdict: A pleasurable book with a few problems, but nicely done in all. 

**Quotes may change in the finished copy**

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!


  1. I felt much of the same way about this novel, Sunny. JuJu's narration was a little irritating and a little too lengthy for me. I also felt the same way about the ban on the Vargas boys. These are events that happened YEARS ago, and you're right, one of the injured parties was married! Move on! Both JuJu and Emilio were much younger that the siblings and so therefore very much removed from those prior bad acts. Like you, I enjoyed this overall but it wasn't my favorite read. Great review. :)

    1. Yay, I'm so glad someone else felt the same! Thanks, Rachel :)

  2. I love this author so this book is high on my tbr. Glad you liked it for the most part. Interesting about the Spanish usage- hope I can remember my high school Spanish :)
    Love your review and gifs!

  3. You should do the Bout of Books Read-a-thon. It is not too late to join. Thanks for commenting on my blog. This book looks great by the way.

  4. The slow beginning would probably do me in. Thanks for honest review, I think I will skip because the parts you didn't like I wouldn't either, no matter the good stuff.

  5. My spanish is terrible. Actually it's pretty much non-existent now. I know about 5 words and that's it. ;) I don't mind the occasional use of another language in a book, but I need it to be translated while we are going along. Like you said, Google Translate isn't always an option. It's a shame that it took you so long to feel invested in this one. Usually I can put up with a couple of so-and-so chapters at the start before wanting to abandon the book completely. Thanks for the helpful review, Sunny!

    1. I felt very proud that I didn't DNF this book at first, because I wanted to! Thank you :)

  6. It sounds like I'd really like the part about Juju helping her Alzheimer's dad with his motorcycle, but it also sounds like Juju's selfishness and "betrayal" would grate on my nerves! I love how you formatted the review with the quotes! :)

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  7. I don't like the 'poor me' mentality in a main character that may bug me too. Still glad you found it enjoyable overall. Can't wait to give it a read myself. :)

  8. This sounds cute, but I don't know if I could handle all of the melodrama. She sounds kind of whiny! But I may just have to read it, because we call one of my best friends "Ju-ju". ;P

    I actually like intermixed spanish words, because it gives us a little background. My only issue? Yeah, I don't know spanish. But I enjoy it anyways. (: Awesome review, Sunny!

    1. She was in some parts!

      Haha, at least you enjoy it :)

  9. I really liked this book, Sarah Ockler writes great contemporaries :) I agree with you about not liking Jude too much at times, though. Amazing review!

  10. I really liked this one overall, but I agree that it had a few problems. I agree that her friendship with Zoe was one of the weakest parts of the book. It just seemed like a lot of miscommunication and not connecting. You're right, Jude should have called her earlier than she did. Jude didn't bother me as much as she did you, though. I really loved her relationship with her father, especially. Glad this was more positive than negative, though. Was this your first Ockler book?

    1. Yes! Too much of the wrong thing and too little of the other. And I THINK it was. Not sure though, I'll have to Goodreads her :)

  11. Eeee, where is my copy so I can read/review it so I can read your review?! I went all the way to the bottom to see your overall reaction, though, and I'm pleased to see that in spite of a few reservations, you enjoyed the story. Hooray! Look forward to comparing notes down the road.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. Yay! I can't wait for you to read it either so we can compare :)

  12. Haven't read this yet, but I'm glad you only had minor reservations. I'm hoping to get to it very'll be my first Sarah Ockler book! :)

  13. Authors unintentionally making characters too self-centered can be the most annoying thing, and I love how you used quotes to illustrate how this happens here. It sounds like Juju's slight egocentricism may have been part of the reason why this book doesn't make you emotional until the end.

    I agree about Spanish words- I hate using Google Translate because it always scrambles words, although I feel smart when I know what they are saying. :)

    Overall, this book appears to be mediocre, and since I wasn't a huge fan of Twenty Boy Summer, I think I'll pass it up. Thanks for the lovely review!