I am a creeping fan of Sarah Ockler's, which is an awkward term I just coined that is supposed to mean that my being a fan of hers crept up on me. Like, I never noticed I was a fan until I suddenly realized I've read all her books and eagerly anticipate when the next comes out. At ALA Midwinter, I walked by the S&S booth gazing longingly at their single ARC of The Book of Broken Hearts
a dozen times. I asked at least two reps if I could have it (they said no). I waited in line at the end of the conference to see if I could snag it (I couldn't). Finally, I waited until it was published and available through the library. I stayed up until 3:30 reading it and then woke up early and finished it before work the next day, where I immediately recommended it to my coworkers. So, I guess I like Sarah Ockler okay.
In The Book of Broken Hearts
, Jude has just graduated from high school. Her father has early onset Alzheimer's, and this will be, in a very real sense (but perhaps not literal), her last summer with him. Jude is the youngest of four daughters, an "oops" baby, seven years junior to her closest sister. She has always lived in the shadow of them, all her memories and experiences leftover, hand-me-downs like the clothes she wears. Then Jude finds her papi's old Harley in the barn. His brain awakens with stories of his travels through South American before he emigrated from Argentina to the US, stories that Jude's sisters never knew, and suddenly this bike is their thing, Jude and her papi's. The problem is, the young, charming, dimpled mechanic they hire to fix it up is a Vargas, and Jude has sworn a blood oath never to get involved with a Vargas brother, since two of them broke her sisters' hearts. Yet while her friends have bailed, unable to deal with Jude's family problems, and her sisters are adults off living adult lives, Emilio Vargas is always there. Sweet. Understanding. Handy. Dimpled.
This is what The Book of Broken Hearts
does really well:
-representing multi-cultural families
-making me want to eat a lot of empanadas
-making me want to get a motorcycle
-having a heart throb who is also like, a real guy and a nice guy, who I just really like a lot. phwoar.
-describing how friendships can just fall apart (actually, I think Ockler is a master at this generally. Her friendships are so complex, that even when the friends aren't in the book very much they never feel like sidekicks. They are never tacked on or only there when convenient. They are a real, breathing, vital part of the MC's story. Even when it's hard. Even when it falls apart.)
-having a heroine who isn't helpless. I loved how she teaches Emilio how to drive a stick.
-describing the ridiculousness of hormones. I adored Jude's sense of humor about her attraction to Emilio in the first half of the book. While she eventually falls for him, she doesn't take her attraction too seriously in the beginning, and I don't think Emilio does either. I laughed so much at these scenes, especially the one when Jude tries to talk to Emilio's friend. Yeah right.
-that father/daughter relationship. THERE'S your broken heart.