Only Love Can Break Your Heart: 5/5
Author: Katherine Webber
Publisher: Walker Books
Hi guys! The weather is changing into Spring, and changing with it is my preference for books. The sun makes me want to read more lighthearted, contemporary YA so that’s exactly what I was aiming for when I picked up Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Boy, was I wrong about the “lighthearted” part… Whilst it definitely gave me some Spring/Summer feels by being set in the Californian desert, this book ripped out my heart, stomped on it and then revived it with an electric jolt. But I loved every second of it.
So, allow me to talk to you about this beautiful book in a bit more detail. It’s written by Katherine Webber, author of the much-praised Wing Jones (that I have yet to read), who is from California herself. In Only Love Can Break Your Heart she takes us on Reiko Smith-Mori’s journey through life, love and self-discovery. Reiko is the popular kid. She’s the kind of person everyone knows, the kind of person that hangs with the group at school, the kind of person who is used to getting what she wants. She’s beautiful, gets good grades and has a loving mother, father and brother. Everything seems perfect, but what seems is not always so. Five years prior to the point we dip into Reiko’s life, her older sister Mika tragically passed away, and Reiko is still coping with this tremendous loss. Her way of grieving is to not talk about Mika with anyone, ever. Because what no one knows is that Reiko still sees Mika. They watch the sunrise together, hang out in her room together and they talk.
But sometimes Reiko needs to get away from her room, from Mika, because she needs to breathe. So she heads out into her much-beloved desert, where she goes rock climbing. It’s one of those nights again when Reiko finds she’s not alone on her favourite rock. She finds someone from school there, a boy named Seth, who shares her love for exploring the desert in the dark. They embark on a summer filled with adventures and Reiko starts to rely on Seth to feel alive. But it’s her secret. And Seth does not want them to be a secret. What follows is Reiko’s struggle with herself about who she wants to be, what she wants to do and who she wants to be with. Cue the feels.
The character development that Reiko goes through is absolutely wonderful and makes you root for her in ways you didn’t think were possible in the beginning. What is so beautiful about this book is that every character has their bad traits and habits, but not to the point where it gets annoying. Just to the point where it makes them human. And to me, that is such a vital part of reading a good contemporary. Another vital part is the setting, obviously. The desert is something so unimaginable to me because I have never ever seen one. But Webber’s lively (but not too elaborate) descriptions of it make me feel as though I was right there with the characters, experiencing the same magical things as them.
Yes, this book is a love story, but more a self-love story than anything else. And a beautiful one at that. Only Love Can Break Your Heart releases August 2nd and I urge you to pick this up and hopefully love it as much as I did.