Even If It Breaks Your Heart

Even If It Breaks Your Heart
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Release Date
February 06, 2024
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A heart-buckling ride of a romance by beloved author Erin Hahn, Even If It Breaks Your Heart is about two teens finding out that sometimes, the hardest part of discovering what you want is getting the courage to pursue it.

The only thing keeping nineteen-year-old Case Michaels together after the death of his best friend, Walker, is a list Walker left behind of things he wants Case to accomplish in his absence. So far, though, Case hasn’t even been able to continue riding bulls in the rodeo circuit, something he’s done his entire life, balking at the thought of competing without Walker by his side. But the list? Case is determined to follow it to the letter– and he follows it all the way to Winnie Sutton.

Eighteen-year-old Winnie Sutton just wants to keep her family together. She graduated high school early to work long shifts at the Michaels family ranch so she can support her younger siblings and a father who’s more than happy to let Winnie fill the responsible parent role. If she sometimes sneaks out to ride the horses herself and forget about life for a while– well, that’s no one else’s business– until the day she crashes headfirst into Case Michaels. Case sees her riding skills and immediately ropes her into competing for the ranch and becoming his friend.

Winnie and Case couldn’t be more different, but Case can’t help but be inspired by Winnie’s badly-hidden passion for riding and competition. And there’s something about Case that makes Winnie want to try grasping onto a dream for herself, whether that’s a shot at a rodeo trophy, the annoyingly handsome rancher’s son who won’t leave her alone, or maybe both.

Editor review

1 review
consuming YA cowboy romance
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EVEN IF IT BREAKS YOUR HEART is a lovely and consuming YA cowboy romance. The story follows two characters who are regaining their footing in the world due to the events that changed the course of their lives. Case is a rodeo bull-rider who has a particular skill for it. However, since his best friend, Walker, died, he has been cast adrift. Walker was his best and only friend, and he left behind a list of things he wanted to do for Case to accomplish. While some of the items seem impossible, others are merely dangerous - possibly even the request to befriend Winnie.

Winnie works on Case's father ranch, and she has been struggling in the ten years since her mother left to keep her family running. Her parentification means she has no time to consider herself or what she wants. Secretly, she would love to compete in the rodeo, but instead, she contents herself with training horses for it. She could never leave her family - she is the only mother her little sister has known and little brother remembers.

As they get to know each other, the impossible begins to seem possible, and their relationship grows, as they begin to heal and find their paths in life.

What I loved: This was a book that touched on some heavy topics without easy answers. Healing after a loved one has died is a slow process. Case has been set adrift, but he is beginning to reconsider his own life and what matters most while he also works his way through the list Walker left for him. His journey is really one of healing and self-discovery. Winnie is dealing with the weight of parentification as she considers wanting anything for herself, while also knowing it would be unattainable, as her father is incapable of taking care of the house, bills, or her ten-year-old sister. With her brother cutting school and possibly risking their exposure, she will have some even tougher decisions to make. In the course of the story, she is beginning to learn to trust others and ask for help, while also learning that it is okay to be somewhat selfish sometimes.

Both Winnie and Case were really compelling characters, and the dual points-of-view worked really well to grow each of their stories individually, but also their friendship that deepens into something more. The romance grew organically and built smoothly throughout the story. Winnie's sister, Garrett, was another really fantastic character who was so easy to fall in love with. She was highly intelligent and motivated, but still a child - and absolutely adorable.

Other themes around alcoholism, sacrifice, found family, and high school popularity were also thought-provoking and created a plot that merits discussion in a book group. The themes of grief, self-discovery, and parentification were particularly powerful in the story and were quite heartfelt, tackling some difficult topics that teens may be facing. Because of the age of the characters and some of the aforementioned themes, this would be a book that would work best for older YA readers.

Final verdict: EVEN IF IT BREAKS YOUR HEART is a consuming and powerful YA cowboy romance that combines unforgettable characters with thought-provoking themes.
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