Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: December 27th 2011
Source: Candace's Book Blog and Elana Johnson


Four stars.

Everyone warned Min that dating Ed wasn't the right road. But she didn't listen. She loved Ed, even though he was her complete and utter opposite. He was a strange fixture in her life that she depended on and cared for, even when things seemed a bit too hazy, a bit too vague. But Min and Ed are splitting apart, and Min is making it final. She's collected all of the treasures of their relationship, both big and momentous and small and seemingly insignificant. Like a scene in a movie, she's written him a letter, explaining each and every item in the box to be dropped off at his house, and each and every reason why they broke up.


This was my very first Daniel Handler experience outside of his pen name, Lemony Snicket. I have to say, I was not disappointed. This book was odd, and very different than I expected. But as Min and Ed know, different doesn't necessarily mean bad.

+This book is written in letter format. Min is writing the letter on the way to Ed's house, and it is heartfelt and personal. It's a bit rambling, but as a girl who has been dumped, I feel that that part is accurate. Sometimes thoughts don't always separate themselves, sometimes memories aren't exactly as sharp as they once were. I think it gave the story an interesting dynamic, and to be honest, I'd love to read a book that's a response from Ed.

+The letter is broken up with illustrations of the items that Min is returning in the box. The sketches are well done, though in my ARC I can only see them in black and white, and not the full color version seen in the finished copy.

+I love the little details in this book. I can personally relate, having kept small, "meaningless" tokens from relationships past. It's amazing how something like a hair tie or a random seed or leaf can have more profound attachments than the cliche gifts of jewels and plush animals. I loved the way Min spoke and narrated, and described things.

-That being said, Min has a love of old movies. Movies that I have not only seen, but never heard of. This made a lot of her references lost on me, because I couldn't picture things the way that she did. Believe me, I wanted to see the world in her cinematic eyes, and I want to see a large number of the films that both Al and Min mentioned throughout the time frame.

+I loved the characters. As I already mentioned, I related to Min and her emotions. I was hoping with her, heartbroken with her, and angry with her. I wanted Ed to be a good guy, despite all of the foreshadowing and even the not so subtle reasons I was given not to like him. And then there's Al, the silent best friend who I wanted to be happy when he was so sad and miserable.

Despite a lack of old movie knowledge that would have been helpful to have throughout this story, I found this a sad but enjoyable read. I teared up, and found myself pushing my way through the pages so that I could answer the title question of why they broke up.

I recommend this to fans of young adult romances (or break ups), and those "artsy folks" who love old films (maybe you'll appreciate it for different reasons than I did). If you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Chopsticks, you might like this. If you're looking for a double sided story or a cheerful, fun read, then this probably won't be for you.

Thank you to Candace's Book Blog and Elana Johnson for my shiny new ARC of this book.