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Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Monday, January 2, 2012
1.5 Stars: An Okay Read
Illustrator: Maira Kalman
Hardback: 354 Pages
Publication: December 27, 2011  by Little, Brown & Company

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.

One of the defining features of this novel is the artwork. Rarely do you find a YA novel with artwork unless it's a graphic novel, and Maira's art is gorgeous. I like how the art relates the theme of the letter that followed. The other is the dialogue/Min's voice. Min isn't afraid of speaking her feelings to Ed, and we really get to know the girl behind the letters. I don't want to be there when Ed reads the letters. They are scathing. However, I feel that there is too much Min. She is so absorbed in her own thoughts that she doesn't give much detail about what's going on, and while I know Min's feelings about Ed, I feel like I never really got to know him. Same with her friends.

There's also the issue of the story. When I picked this up, I thought that there would be more to the story of why Min and Ed broke up--I thought that we would learn more about Min's life in general. However, it really is all about a love-struck aspiring film director falling in love with the basketball team's co-captain, who is known for having many different girlfriends, their relationship and eventual breakup. The letters themselves are explain her thoughts and reasonings about various points in their relationship. Other than that, there is no plot, and the ending is anticlimactic. From Min's reaction to the breakup, you'd think that something equivalent to the apocalypse took place. Instead, it is something ordinary--something you'd expect given Ed's history.

I liked the artwork, and the first hundred or so pages were interesting. After that, however, the story was routine. Chapter after chapter from Min and Ed's relationship and why they broke up. You might find this book more interesting if you like old movies like Min and understand her references; maybe you won't because of other factors.


A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

2 comments on "Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler"
  1. Ooh artwork? That's always awesome I loved Liesl & po because of that. I'll put this on my wishlist for sure!

    Xpresso Reads

  2. I've heard a lot of shaky reviews about this book and after reading multiple reviews I have decided that I probably will not like this book. I may still read it just to see how it is, but from what I've read and knowing the kind of book I like to read... this book does not seem like the one for me! Great review!


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