Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC obtained at TLA 2013 conference
Status: Standalone

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.

I really have to hand it to Sarah Ockler. She practices what she preaches. I was surprised when I realized that Broken Hearts's heroine Jude is from an Argentinian family and love interest Emilio is Puerto Rican. Why the surprise? Well, honestly, because the majority ya fiction is about white kids, to be completely honest. Then a few months ago, I stumbled on Sarah's beautifully written blog post Race in YA Lit: Wake Up & Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, White Authors!, which is completely inspired and brilliant as it scolds us all to include more racial diversity in our reading and writing without just throwing in a stereotypical flat character to break up the monotony and appease the masses. Brava, Sarah!
Sarah Ockler is also one of those authors who somehow magically writes about subjects that are intensely personal to me. Not intensely personal in the oh-my-gosh-I-totally-feel-this-way-about-a-boy sense of things, but more like the situations. Twenty Boy Summer killed me with just a small mention of organ donation, which my family dealt with two years ago. I also felt very close to Hudson's situation in Bittersweet. Now, in Broken Hearts, Jude is trying to help her father fight El Demonio, their nickname for his early onset Alzheimer's. My grandfather had Alzheimer's so I've experienced the horror of this creeping disease that steals away memories and identities. Sarah Ockler books = major feels.

I don't envy Jude. She's the youngest of four (me too, Jude!) and often feels pushed to the background by her sisters' strong personalities (me too, Jude!). Broken Hearts takes place during the summer after high school graduation so Jude is dealing with growing up and becoming an adult, leaving behind high school and all that all the while feeling like she's the one being left behind by her friends, her sisters, and mostly, her dad, who experiences scary shifts in personality when his EOA kicks in. She's a girl who seems to define herself by the people around her, but as circumstances change, she's not sure how to change with them. Jude is so likeable, so relatable. She's a ya everygirl, and you really will feel close to her when she panics over her dad, when she feels lost, when she pines over the bad boy who doesn't seem as bad as she's always been told...

Meanwhile, there's Emilio, who always says and does the right thing. He's seemingly perfect. Sweet, funny, hard-working, gentle, handsome (duh), and just bad enough (motorcycle & scars!) to make your heart spaz. Oh, AND he loves his mom AND he helps out with Jude's dad during several of his bad moments. Geez. The boy is a saint! But really, Emilio is just like any other Real Boy and he's got himself a Past that, while he doesn't hide it, he's not exactly spilling over with the details. Emilio's greatest quality is that he doesn't live in the past; he's constantly trying to move forward and he tries to bring Jude with him. One of the greatest moments of the book is when Emilio throws down the ultimatum gauntlet and tells Jude that if she refuses to move on, he won't be able to stay with her.

Broken Hearts is not an action-packed book. I mean, there are faced-paced crazy moments, but mostly, the moments are small and tender. The action mostly takes place inside of Jude as she fights within herself to figure out who she is and what the heck she's going to do with herself. Any external action serves as the catalyst for the changes Jude goes through internally. This is a book about finding yourself, which is simple and yet, not so simple. It's messy and scary and beautiful and tragic and squishy-feeling-inducing.

Recommended for: Anyone looking for a deeper kind of contemporary
Not recommended for: A lighthearted read

Book Links:

About the Author:
Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of several books for teens: The Book of Broken Hearts, Bittersweet, Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, and the upcoming #scandal. Her books have received numerous accolades, including ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, Girls’ Life Top 100 Must Reads, Indie Next List, Amazon Top Movers and Shakers, and nominations for YALSA Teens’ Top Ten and NPR’s Top 100 Teen Books. 

She’s a champion cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she’s not writing or reading at home in Colorado, Sarah enjoys hugging trees and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex. In addition to her website at, fans can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Author Links:


  1. I totally agree with your review! Sarah Ockler's books really do equal feels and I also gave The Book of Broken Hearts a 4 out of 5, only because I felt it could have been a teeny bit better.

  2. I have been hesitant on getting this one, but great review! I'll now definitely look into picking it up! Sounds so cute and right up my alley :)