Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman
Series: N/A
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: 12/27/2011
Length: 354 pages
Format: Paperback ARC
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult
Challenges: N/A
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Purchase: Hardcover | Kindle | NOOK | ePub
Rating: ★★★★☆


I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Well done, Daniel Handler. I haven’t read any of his books before. I really enjoyed his characters though. Min was terrific. She’s quirky and awesome. I also adore Al, even though he needs to to learn to speak up. The two of them together are a lovely team. Ed has some good moments, but by the end of the book I had to ask myself how sincere those were. I’m thinking not very.

There are some lovely elements throne into this book. I really like the whole premise: “Here’s your stuff. Now, let me use it to remind you of all the things that led to this break-up.” I’ll go ahead and tell you that with this book, the title says it all. The whole book is a letter to Ed explaining their relationship and why it was doomed from the beginning. Don’t expect things to turn around. Min definitely has good reasons. But it doesn’t end terribly either. I will say there are some unanswered questions. I would like to know a little more about what on earth was going through Ed’s head the whole time. Was he really that delusional about all of it, or is he really just the worst kind of jerk?

I have a single complaint. I wasn’t fond of some of the writing. It was confusing. This might be something that changes with editing. I’m not sure. Still, it had a huge impact on me. I think with different punctuation it would have worked. The way it is right now, I had to read some sentences two or three times to understand. I think a big part of it is that it’s a little stream-of-consciousness, which makes sense because Min is writing this letter on her way to give his stuff back. It works, I’m just waiting to see if it gets edited a little differently.

There are some really lovely illustrations and I can’t wait to grab a copy of the finished book to see the rest of them. They’ll all be full color, which is cool. This one’s out tomorrow so go pick up a copy!

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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