The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler Review

Posted May 23, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 8 Comments

The Book of Broken Hearts 
by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: May 21, 2013
352 Pages

Source: ARC Tour/Publisher
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 

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. -(from Goodreads) 

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler 

My Thoughts:  This is my first Sarah Ockler book! I feel like I’m finally in the contemporary-readers club and it feels pretty good. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
This cover is so pretty. It caught my eye right away. 
It actually made me think that this book was a nice, fluffy romance.
That’s the funny thing about being me and judging books by their covers. This book is a nice romance and I loved reading about Jude and Emilio – but there is way more in this book that just a romance. I feel like I’ve said over and over lately that I’ve picked up books expecting one thing and what I’ve gotten is something way more with much more depth and emotion. 

I think in this case, what we have is actually two stories in one. 

The second thing you need to know is this:

Jude and her Papi are looking to have Papi’s old motorcycle restored. 
They end up hiring Emilio Vargas. 
Emilio Vargas is one of the infamous Vargas brothers, and the Hernandez family has sworn off getting involved with the Vargas family forever – that is, after two of Emilio’s older brothers completely shattered the hearts of two of Jude’s older sisters. Jude’s older sisters have kept to their promise, and now it’s up to Jude to do the same. Initially this is easy for Jude, but it actually becomes difficult with each passing day. 

Emilio is great at working on Papi’s motorcycle. He seems to know exactly what he’s doing and Papi enjoys his company. He is patient and he’s kind and he’s never given Jude any reason to suspect that he is anything at all like she had always heard his brothers were. As time progresses, Jude finds that she looks forward to the days she will spend around Emilio. And she knows that she eventually has to break this news to her sisters – she is not looking forward to this. 

The third thing you need to know is this:

Papi is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, 
which is drawing the Hernandez family closer and breaking their hearts. 
So this, this is the part that I didn’t really know about when I picked up this book. I’m not sure many readers have known about Papi and his issues. But goodness gracious, this family is pretty devastated by this and it certainly pulled at my heart with their grief at his deteriorating condition. It was even worse when it was Papi in the scenes on the pages – watching him become more forgetful and then realizing what is happening to him, and watching Jude have to go through this by his side. Hello, heart break city. 

The restoration of the motorcycle is what is supposed to keep Papi alert and healthy and feeling good. That’s the entire idea behind this project and Jude is hell-bent on seeing it through and making sure it happens. But as the summer wears on and stuff pops up – potential obstacles to the motorcycle being finished, plans for the future, things like that – Jude finds herself finding comfort and strength in Emilio Vargas, even when she’s taken a blood oath to never, ever, ever get involved with his family. 


Wow, The Book of Broken Hearts. A great story, first of all. I always love it when I’m pleasantly surprised and I think that happened here as I got way more than I anticipated. I loved the sweet romance and while it was definitely my favorite part of the book, I didn’t mind the part of the story that involved Jude’s family and her Papi. However, I’m probably gonna take a beating when I say that I thought the whole idea of the oath swearing off the Vargas brothers was kind of crazy. 

Regarding Jude’s family: they were such an interesting bunch. I found myself interested enough in what all they had going on, but I’ll be honest and say that I had a super hard time really connecting with them on much of an emotional level. The idea of taking a blood oath – actually drawing blood – and making out a contract stating that you will never become involved with another family? That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. In this story, the older three sisters were much closer in age, with a several-year gap before Jude came along. So we have these three older sisters – two with broken hearts – that had sworn off an entire family, and I get that they wanted nothing to do with these three older brothers. I really do. But to expect Jude to go along with it seemed kind of crazy. SURE it makes for a good story, but because I found myself like yeah, whatever to this part of the story, I had a harder time other parts of the story, like the sibling relationship and Papi’s health issues. I suppose buying into that oath and contract and sister-agreement thing was kind of important to the foundation of the story, and I kind of missed the mark on that a little. BUT! 

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the family or the family dynamic – that’s just to say that the fact that these sisters expected Jude to play by their outdated oath was a little bit…ridiculous? Unacceptable to me? So I was really happy when Jude stepped out and grew up and developed into her own person over time – enough that she was willing to voice her opinions and stand up against the oath she was told to take she took when she was a young child. 

Phew. Now that I’m probably an outcast for voicing that

I liked Jude. I liked her unease and her discomfort with Emilio being around the house and her thought processes on what she should do about the whole thing. She was in a really tough position, being at that age and in that situation with her Papi and her sisters and Emilio out in the garage after signing that dumb oath years ago. I love that she still went out to the garage and kept him company while he worked and that she recognized that despite her sisters’ disdain for his family, Emilio was good for her Papi. The summer in this story is a summer of growing up for Jude, and I love that coming-of-age. 

But just as much, I love the romance. The crush on Emilio, complete with being unsure of what to say to him and the fluttery feeling in her heart when he was close. Emilio was not quick at all with anything – gosh, he was torturously slow – but he was confidant and a little bit cocky and that’s always fun. 

Ultimately, I liked this book and I liked this story. I am so, so glad that Jude rose up and over that oath she took and became her own person. I’m glad that it was Emilio that was chosen to work on the motorcycle. I’m glad that I finally read a Sarah Ockler book and I’m glad that I’ll read Twenty Boy Summer as my next Ockler book. Hopefully soon. 

I recommend The Book of Broken Hearts for fans of YA Contemporary with Romance, books with strong family ties, and books with sibling relationships. 


The Book of Broken Hearts will appeal to fans of:
YA Contemporary

Romance: Slowly Developing. No Triangle.
Books with Strong Family Relationships, 
Sibling Relationships. 

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
is currently available for purchase. 


Is The Book of Broken Hearts on your to-read list?
Have you read it yet? 

Have you read any other Sarah Ockler books? 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


8 responses to “The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler Review

  1. So glad you read and really enjoyed this one. I understand what you mean about the oath thing. I was annoyed that it was taken so seriously but I really felt like it was the influence of Mari. At that point the sisters prob just wanted her to shut up and just get it over with because the other is crying and super upset. I think it was just all tied to their "roles" in the family and it was tough because they were all different ages too? I don't know.

    I have to read this book again. That would make it the third time for me. I just really connected to these characters, and I think because I had read other Ockler's beforehand I could see her growth SO SO SO MUCH.

    P.S. Read Bittersweet! So fun!

  2. I haven't read this one, but my first introduction to Ockler's work was Twenty Boy Summer, and I was really impressed by how very real it was. Although I'm not overly impressed with the synopsis for this one, it sounds like Jude is a great character, and I love it when we have the chance to watch characters grow and transform in front of our eyes. Brilliant review, Asheley 🙂

  3. This was my first Ockler book to actually finish. For some reason Twenty Boy Summer and Bittersweet did not hold my interest and I had to put them down. But I felt like this author had something.. maybe those two books weren't the right stories for me, but THIS ONE, oh this one surely was. I really connected with the story emotionally. My grandmother had Alzheimer's so I felt the connection mostly there. It's such a debilitating disease and hard on everyone, not just the person battling it.

    As for your comments on the sisters, yes the oath was silly but it didn't bother me so much. I was more upset that they were all scattered in other places, leaving so much responsibility to Jude. However.. that's another point in the story I connected with also. I'm the youngest of four girls, and because of proximity, I was there to look after my mom & be with her most when she was sick, before she passed. It's not to say that my sisters didn't want to be there, or couldn't be there.. it's just that in those moments, you think things aren't really THAT bad and that you can handle things.. and most importantly, you expect so MUCH MORE time on your side. So I can't fault them for not being at home that summer with Jude.

    Ok wow. I had a lot to say! haha To wrap it up, I love this story and it's definitely an example of not casting off an author just because a certain story may not work for you. Because obviously this one did!

  4. I've never read any of Ockler's books before, so after reading this one I really want to! I had such a hard time reading this, not because it wasn't superb but because I just felt so emotionally connected to Jude and the issues her family is going through. I actually had to put the book down SEVERAL times! I also really liked the pact the sisters made. It was weird, yes, but I think I got why Jude participated, despite it being so weird. I also wanted to cheer for her when she finally stood up to her sisters! Anyway… wonderful review! Excellent book!

  5. I had similar feelings, Asheley! I loved the relationships and the romance and especially Jude's growth, but some of the foundation for her character was lost on me. Still, the overall message of this novel was so powerful! Lovely review! 🙂

  6. I also think that the whole oath thing sounds a bit ridiculous. I mean, why is that even necessary? Just make it clear you don't like this family. Not to mention a blood-oath is wayyy melodramatic. I bet there could have been ways to build tension without an actual oath, but oh well. That won't stop me from eventually reading this book. I haven't read any Ockler yet (I'm gradually working my way through many well-known YA contemp authors, so Ockler will get her turn soon enough). Overall I like what I've read about this book, so I'll probably also read this book as my introduction to Ockler's works. 🙂

  7. You are an Ockler virgin no longer! 😀

    I'm glad you enjoyed this, Asheley. I have to confess I wasn't a huge fan of the family dynamic either–I found some of it distracting, even though the story about her father was touching. But you must read BITTERSWEET, too! It's much lighter and sweeter, but it's not a shallow book at all. I hope you enjoy.

    And you and I both have to read all the other Ocklers. 🙂

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  8. I really love the cover for this book too-definitely my favorite part! I didn't much like this book finding Jude fairly intolerable for the majority of the story. I actually preferred her sisters so I was perfectly okay with the blood oath.

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