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Only Love Can Break Your Heart

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  712 ratings  ·  156 reviews
From the author of the acclaimed Wing Jones comes a 'break-up' book about a Japanese-American teenager, set in the Palm Springs desert, California. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything and Sara Barnard's Beautiful Broken Things.

Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free…

Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian de
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 2nd 2018 by Walker Books Ltd.
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The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura StevenI Was Born for This by Alice OsemanClean by Juno DawsonGoodbye, Perfect by Sara  BarnardI Am Thunder by Muhammad    Khan
UKYA in 2018
63 books — 71 voters
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi AdeyemiThe Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura StevenThe Hazel Wood by Melissa AlbertState of Sorrow by Melinda SalisburyRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
YALC 2018
85 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  712 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, underrated
”It’s easy to break an already broken heart”

Fun fact: the one and only Patrick Ness came up with the title for this book. If that had happened to me, I would cry forever.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart is a tender and complex story about loss and self-discovery. Reiko is a Japanese-American teenager. I immediately fell in love with her. She is a character with a lot of depth and many layers. It was fun to get to know her more and more throughout the story. On one hand, she is this is the smart, d
Holly Bourne
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've not read a YA book like it, but teens REALLY need more novels as nuanced and brilliant as this one. It sends such a great message that true love starts from within. Not to be missed. ...more
Sep 18, 2018 marked it as dnf
DNF at page 155.
We’re gonna have to cut this bookish relationship short, book.

I’ve been reading this book since yesterday and from the beginning, I’ve had issues with the characters, the writing and how quickly the friendship/relationship was developing.

It wasn’t insta-lovey. Just felt forced. As did the writing for me. I wasn’t feeling any kind of connection towards our main character, even though she just lost her sister and is grieving. Her friendship with Seth just came out of nowhere and
Whispering Stories
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed on

Teenager Reiko lives in California with her American mother, Japanese father and younger brother Koji. She also has a relationship with her deceased sister Mika whom only she can see. She is one of the popular girls at school along with her friends Andrea (Dre) and Libby.

She has a love for the desert and likes to climb and watch the sun rise and fall. It is on one of her climbs in the desert that she meets Seth, although he goes to the same school and at
♛ may
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
book #4 done for the contemporary-a-thon under the challenge of: a book with “blurple” on the cover ✔

i read katherine webber's debut novel, Wing Jones and REALLY enjoyed it, so going into this book, my expectations were already pretty high

but i just found myself so detached while reading it. the story has a lot of potential and i can see why it is such a loved book but i mainly had issues with reiko, our main character. she's (somewhat) conceited, her character is flat, and she's part of this ~m
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. I treasured every minute. My full review ...more
Alice (Married To Books)
This YA standalone contemporary romance novel caught my interest a while back, but sadly fell a little flat for me. The main character Reiko is Japanese-American and struggling to come to terms with her sister's death. The storyline takes place over the course of a school year in California. Reiko is adventurous and decides to spend time with a fellow classmate called Seth. Their lives change over the course of the year, including applying to Colleges and friendship fall-outs. The pacing at time ...more
Rosanna Threakall
There are no words to articulate how amazing this book is. You MUST pick this up when it's out.

Reiko is a force to be reckoned with and her story is one everyone needs to read.


Just as amazing. Katie Webber can do no wrong
Femke (booksfemme)
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book! THIS BOOK!


Seriously you guys, this is one of my favourite books I've read so far this year. I've come to love the characters with a fierceness because of how achingly human they are. And that is what makes this book so special, so relatable. Even though Reiko, our MC, has bad traits/habits, you cannot help but love her, because you see how she learns. a.k.a.: the character development is wonderfully well done.

The writing is beautiful, heartbreakingly beautiful. It made me cry, it ma
Lauren James
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ukya
Katherine Webber is a master at capturing the subtle nuances of changing social interactions. I am in awe of her characterisations. (Also, I now reaaaaally want to visit a desert. The tortoises! The moon flowers!)
Laura (bbliophile)
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first saw the cover of this book I knew I had to request it. I already bought a book by this author last year – Wing Jones – and while I hadn’t gotten around to reading it myself, I had heard the most wonderful things about it from people I trust, so I was sure this book was probably going to be wonderful as well. And it was.

The writing in this book is very atmospheric and pulls you into the book from the first page on, and doesn’t release you until you’ve finished the whole thing. That’s
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars
Look I really enjoy this book. But I don’t know why I just couldn’t feel connected with her character. Like it didn’t do much as much as I hoped for. There are so much emotional thing and I feel bad for a lot of times. Especially knowing what she has to go through. But yeap... maybe it’s just didn’t work for me sadly :(

However the whole story was pretty good. I am pretty sure a lot of you will enjoy it more than I do.

* Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy :)
Becky (Blogs of a Bookaholic)
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
This review was originally published on Blogs of a Bookaholic.

Oh my god guys. Oh. My. God. This book, SLAYED MY HEART. It squidged and bruised and punched it, and then turned it into joy confetti. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?! Thank you universe for putting this little miracle of a book in my path. This is 100% the best book I've read this year, and I have a feeling a lot of people will be talking about it (in between uncontrollable sobbing). The thing is, it looks like such a sweet little unassuming b
Samantha Shannon
I absolutely loved this book. Wing Jones was one of the best debuts I've ever come across, with its compelling voice and powerful message about believing in yourself, and Only Love Can Break Your Heart is even better. Katherine has a real gift for creating nuanced characters and unravelling their reactions to complicated, and often painful, real-life situations. Her books lift a mirror to how messy we all are, and you'll always feel better about yourself for seeing it. Reiko isn't perfect, and ...more
John Moore
An absolutely stunning read that has you casting your mind back to teenage heartbreak. Katie’s prose is so natural and smooth, like a comforting hot chocolate by a campfire. It’s a great contemporary read and somehow manages to be even better than the fabulous Wing Jones. Brava, Katie, brava!
Completely Melanie
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unhauled
I was not a fan. The main character is very shallow and doesn't improve much throughout the story and then the romance in here is just bad. It starts off sweet but then just turns cringy. I was not a fan. ...more
2 stars.

”I hold my head high under an invisible crown as I glide from class to class, still smiling all the while, and when I feel myself about to stumble, I remind myself who I am. I’m Reiko Smith-Mori. I shine the brightest. But sometimes I wonder if it will ever be enough, if I'll ever be enough.”

I might go into more detail at a later point on why I didn’t like Only Love Can Break Your Heart (spoilers: I will probably never come back to this review, so don’t let me lie to you), but at the mom
Daphne (Illumicrate)
Beautifully written, about love and heartbreak in a gorgeous desert setting. Will make you nostalgic for that magical feeling you get during school summers.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, arc
So I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the story line following Reiko’s grief and how she learned to cope with it was perfect. I loved her friendship with Dre and her need to live up to a certain standard at school for her sister Mika’s sake - all of this was written so well.
What I couldn’t stand was the romance. Even at the beginning when Seth was meant to be the nice guy, I couldn’t stand him and saw right through his act - that boy was always toxic. Perhaps Reiko was using
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
3.5 stars? EDIT I think 4?

Yeah idk, the first part with Seth was instalovey but there wasn't a real spark. They would have been better as friends, but okay. It got toxic real quick and that was sad honestly, because I expected a good romance... The toxic romance first annoyed me but later on I understood it better, the main characters both needed something from the other. Seth was a character I didn't like and Reiko is one I'm not really have a big opinion on. The last part of the book was more
Sophie Elaina
What a lovely book. The characters are flawed and real and unreliable and I adore that. The whole story is just so beautiful and my emotions were all over the place while I was reading it.

Katherine Webber's writing is somehow both gritty and lyrical while also being quick, smart and to the point, I've not really read any writing quite like it. She really knows how to pull at your heart strings and capture you in a story. And regarding the character arc's, they were stunningly well woven together
Lizzie Huxley-Jones
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read almost all of Only Love Can Break Your Heart on hot tube journeys this past Sunday. The thick dry air was as close to the desert as I could get in London.
Reiko longs for adventure, for escape from her feelings, to find beautiful things in the desert at night. When a chance encounter brings loner Seth Rogers into her orbit, they embark on a series of night time adventures into the dark. Anything to keep her mind from her grieving. But as it becomes clear that neither Reiko nor Seth can be
Stacey (prettybooks)
Only Love Can Break Your Heart is the second novel by my friend and UKYA-er Katie Webber, who also wrote Wing Jones. Reiko's older sister died a few years ago and she's still struggling to come to terms with it – especially as she rarely talks about her sister, and certainly doesn't tell people that she can still see and speak to her. When she becomes unlikely friends with Seth, she learns that there's more than one way to break a heart.

Continue reading this review over on Pretty Books.

May 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let’s just say, my relationship with this book is an odd one. I detested it at first, and both the main characters, but by 1/2-way, I appreciated it’s brutal honestly regarding toxic relationships. The writing was rushed and I didn’t find the alternate ghost plot line to be compelling until the end, but I related to Reiko’s narrative more than I’d like to admit. She truly had to find the strength within herself to admit her faults, her feelings, and her true desires. And even after her realizati ...more
Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
Loved this. Quite a few moments when tears threatened to spill over!
Jessica (Jess Hearts Books)
Gorgeous. Will break your heart then put it back together again.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
An entertaining YA novel, which combines a coming-of-age story with a romance. Reiko still misses her sister Mika, who died five years earlier. She's from a rich, privileged home in California, and is one of the 'popular' kids at school, but she likes to hang out in the desert. It's there that she meets Seth, who is from a single parent family and lives in a trailer, and one of the less popular kids. So although they begin a friendship, she can't acknowledge him when she's at school for fear of ...more
Marie the Librarian
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book had me so annoyed at times cause the characters made me so mad but then that ending just broke me. And I ended up really liking it.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*So, spoiler alert*

At first I thought I wouldn't like this book - I kinda grew out of this whole YA genre, and I've been noticing that most of the time I get bored or irritated with the book half-way through...I simply can't relate to shallow 15, 16 or 17 year old anymore.

But this book was something different. From the very first chapter I was sucked in and, just like Reiko in the ocean, I had to fight the urge to stay up way past my bedtime to read it, read it and just read it. Because I was s
As the story goes, I gradually lose interest in it. It's not as good as I expected. The desert setting should have complemented the story better if the writer makes the most of it, but unluckily, it failed to satisfy me. The direction that the story and characters ended up taking let me down. The first chapters are great and heart-warming, but Reiko is selfish and mean. She wants to keep her relationship with Seth in the dark for fear of losing her status at school, she leaves him on his birthda ...more
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Katherine Webber was born in Southern California in 1987. She has lived in Hong Kong, Hawaii, and Atlanta. She currently lives in London with her husband, Kevin, and their young daughter. In addition to her YA, Katherine also co-writes young fiction, as Katie Tsang, with Kevin.

Katherine studied Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis and Chinese literature and language at t

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