Disclosure: I received a review copy of Only Love Can Break Your Heart from Pansing Books, a regional distributor, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber • contains 385 pages • published August 2, 2018 by Walker Books • classified as Contemporary, Young Adult • obtained through Pansing Books • read as ARC • shelve on Goodreads
Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free… Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert. It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you...
Only Love Can Break Your Heart demonstrates how messy relationships can be, be they romantic, platonic or familial. From grief, to love, to forgiveness and hope, this book covered a huge spectrum of life experiences.
Katherine Webber first cam on my radar when I heard of Wing Jones, a novel about a biracial student athlete — the closest intersection of my identities I’ve ever encountered in any book. I related so much to it, I couldn’t wait for Katherine Webber’s sophomore novel. With it, again, she delivered! By the end of the book, I was tearing so much for Reiko and just how much I related to the story.
The characters were complex and their trajectories sent me on quite the emotional rollercoaster. I didn’t always agree with them, especially because they made me uncomfortable and mad at various points, but the friendship of Reiko and Dre gave me hope. Their exploration beyond their familiar world was exhilarating and I just this one person they met who challenged them to be the best that they could be.
In some ways, Only Love Can Break Your Heart was a similar to Wing Jones in that reality and fantasy/imagination were blurred. That was one reservation I had with Wing Jones, which also carried over to Only Love Can Break Your Heart.
While that ambiguous or imagined reality was more organically integrated in this book, I’m still not the biggest fan of such storytelling approaches. That’s what stopped me from giving full 5 stars. I don’t often enjoy sidetrack to the momentum of the overarching plot. Although here, it did give more insight to the main character’s motivations, so it’s more of a “it’s me, not you” kind of critique. In any case, Only Love Can Break Your Heart is a great book for those who like their YA contemporary novels on the grittier side.