Author: Sarah Ockler
Narrator: Zilah Mendoza
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Source: purchased audio, received galley from publisher for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
So, The Book of Broken Hearts was my first Sarah Ockler book. I know, I know. I do own a hardcover of Bittersweet. But I recently discovered that was just released on Audible, so I'll probably go that route so that I can get to it sooner. But also because I thoroughly enjoyed The Book of Broken Hearts and I'm anxious to read more from this author.
First off, I think the relationship between the sisters was portrayed beautifully. I have one older sister who is eight years my senior, and then I have a little sister who is only a year-and-a-half younger than me. (That'd be my co-blogger Mendy.) There is a big difference in my relationship with each of my sisters, and I saw that dynamic mirrored in the way the Hernandez sisters interacted with each other. However, had one of my sisters insisted on a pact made by candlelight and sealed with blood over some boy, I think I would have had to opt out. :-P
Jude, our main character, is the youngest, and there are several years between her and Mariposa, the youngest of the older sisters. But the difference in age means that she's pretty much grown up like an only child, her older sisters all having moved out and on with their lives. And so she's left to care for her ailing father while her mother works to support them. Not that they're suffering, but Jude's father is no longer able to work because of his condition. Jude essentially foregoes all of her summer plans to spend her last months before college with Bear, and it's time with her father that she'll cherish forever. Especially once they discover his old motorcycle in the barn and he begins telling her stories of his time as a biker in Argentina, which leads to Jude's decision to have the bike repaired.
Enter Emilio, one of the reviled Vargas brothers, whom Jude has sworn never to have any contact with. Family being what it is, Jude tries to hate Emilio, but he has some redeeming qualities of his own. First being that he's willing to work on her father's bike affordably. But he also never pushes Jude and instead offers his friendship as she deals with the sorrow affecting her family. I loved the slow progression from would-be enemies to something more than friends. But I also loved that this romance remained in the background, even though the blurb had me believing that the story's emphasis would be the somewhat-forbidden romance between Jude and Emilio.
As for the narrator, Zilah Mendoza was perfection. If I had read this novel myself, it wouldn't have felt as authentic because I definitely wouldn't have read it with an accent, despite the fact that the families in question are from Argentina and Puerto Rico. I love when the narrator becomes one with the story, and it no longer seems like you're listening to someone read a book. Instead, it felt like the narrator was simply relaying her own story.
The Book of Broken Hearts is a tale of family and love and heartbreak. It's beautiful in its sadness, but it's also a hopeful story. Bear's own story is a reminder to Jude that it's important to live each day to the fullest, but it's a reminder to us all, really. Carpe diem and all that. ;0) This book was uniquely heartbreaking and funny, and it's ensured that I'll be picking up the author's other works in the near future.
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