Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber
|Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber|
|Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam|
|Summary: Clever, surprising and gorgeously written, populated with complex characters and even more complicated emotions – I enjoyed it a lot!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: August 2018|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Though it's been 5 years since Mika died, Reiko still sees the ghost of her sister every day, forever 14. It's something that brings her comfort, but also a constant reminder that she has to make up for being one when there should have been two. She has to shine bright enough for both of them. When she befriends outsider Seth, he presents her with an escape. From her family, her friends, the grief and loss that continue to scar them all. Seth is instantly smitten with her. After all, who wouldn't fall for gorgeous, popular Reiko Smith-Mori? But while she falls in love with the escape that he represents from her grief, it's not so clear that she's falling in love with him.
Ooh, this one surprised me. Not in terms of the gorgeous prose, or the lush imagery of the desert setting, or the cultural diversity of the characters. Katherine Webber's fabulous debut novel, Wing Jones, had all that and more. What I didn't see coming was the direction that the story and characters ended up taking. Wing Jones had a wonderfully likeable protagonist, and a central romance I couldn't help but root for. Can't really say the same for this one though. Reiko is beautiful, popular and privileged. Her terrible loss goes some way towards explaining, but far from excuses the way she treats Seth early on. Even from the get go, you're hit by the sense that something is a little off with their relationship, that it isn't going to be the 'love at first sight' romance that it initially shapes itself out to be.
There are a lot of readers who might be put off by the characters and relationships in the first half of the book. My advice is to trust the author. She knows what she's doing. The pay-off is very much worth it.
Everything really comes together in the clever, compelling second half. Reiko's growth and self-realisation, the hidden sides revealed to Seth, the depth of best friend Andrea's loyalty, it's all beautifully done. Friendship and family comes to the fore as Reiko realises that she can never really escape from her grief, but there are people who will always be there to help her bear the weight of her loss.
I enjoyed it a lot and can't wait to see what Katherine Webber brings us next!
My thanks to the lovely publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For another gorgeous self-discovery arc with a main character that is far from likeable at first, Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall is well worth checking out. And no-one does love and loss quite like Jandy Nelson; The Sky is Everywhere is still one of my absolute favourites.
You can read more book reviews or buy Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber at Amazon.com.
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