ARC REVIEW: Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber 💭 Can it also break a back, too, because my back feeling pretty broken too?


Title: Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Author: Katherine Webber
Pages: 352

Release Date: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Contemporary
Goodreads Rating:  3.86 (of 467 ratings)


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A grieving girl. An unexpected boy. A perfect love story . . . until it isn’t perfect at all.
Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free…

Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colors 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…crowns


Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of I Read YA at Yallfest 2019. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

Side Note: I fully injured my back so me being on hiatus was mostly me, forever cringing with an injured back. Thanks to the chiropractor smothering me (or, you know, helping me), I am feeling much better. That is where this title comes from for this post.

I knew I was taking a major chance when I was picking this book. When I was scrolling through the ARC drops for Yallfest and saw this book, it didn’t immediately call out to me. However, when there was only a few people in front of me for this ARC line, the promise of free book was too strong and I got pulled in like a vortex.

I’m actually mostly glad that I got it. This book was such an intriguing look into characterization. I mean, these people are messy af and you kind of want to repeatedly shake your book at them in an old person manner, but Webber did an incredible job of creating complex, human characters that were realistic yet fascinating. 

Our main character, Reiko, is a well defined heroine, who certainly doesn’t do all the right things. She is still reeling with the death of her sister, Mika, who death she feels guilty for. She still sees Mika’s ghost, and she faces with the gravity of having to move on with her life while her sister is forever stuck at fourteen. She is sort of a mean girl, yet she feels hollow with a lot of things in her life. She has a wandering soul, and when she meets Seth, she feels as if she’s been seen. A lot of her decisions are pretty disastrous, but you can easily see the psychology and Webber creates so much intricacies to her. She may not be a heroine that you easily root for, but you for sure will see just how human a lot of her decisions are.

I also love how Webber showcases toxic relationships. It’s something that is continuously growing for the teenage age group – however, this is only the third book that I read that directly pointed out toxicity in relationships. We have both a toxic friendship and a toxic relationship. Webber showed all the little things that is included, and it really shines a light on the topic.

The other characters did have a lot of complexity as well. Seth, Dre, Mika, and Koji were given in-depth details and personalities. Some of them are even given their own growth stories and flaws as well.

While the characterization was the true star of this novel, other things did get a bit muddled. At times, the story is a bit slow, and it really took me a bit of time to get warmed up to the story. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing style, but I did mange to get into the groove. I also never felt a big lasting impact with it either? Like, in a few months, I don’t think it’s going to be something that I point back to.

Overall, this story did have some bright spots with the characterization, but it ended up just being okay.



rating: Belle because it was good – not great
half Japanese MC 
content warnings: death of family member, grief, sexual situation (MC says no, and the partner doesn’t stop right away), toxic relationships (friendship and romantic)
read this if you: if you really love complex morally grey heroines that go on an emotional journey


What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


7 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber 💭 Can it also break a back, too, because my back feeling pretty broken too?

  1. I hope your back is way better Mandy! I confess that I was wondering what the book did to your back LOL Now I have pre ordered that one so I hope that for me it won’t be just good but more great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sam! I didn’t realize just how much the back affects. 😦 I’ve finally made a pretty decent recovery after having many many chiropractor appointments, haha. And I definitely think you will – it tackles a lot of journeys which I know you love. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a touching story, Mandy! Great review! I like it when books discuss toxic friendships because my goodness the things I’ve seen friends get away with in YA novels…


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