Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "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."

Review:  I had mixed feelings about this book. In the beginning I really liked how different it was from many of the other young adult "break up" novels I'd read, with its chapters each centered around some item that came from their relationship.  Throughout the novel we see these gifts or relics of their relationship that each have a story behind them.  Min reminisces about each item, telling Ed what her experience was with them and how she felt.  It was an interesting idea for a break up, which is why it first caught my attention.  What person hasn't wanted to open up and spill their emotions about certain events and items to their ex?  I know I have!

After a certain point, as the story built and we learned how this couple came to be, I did start to lose interest.  I think that to some degree, because I knew it was this letter to Ed, I felt like she was verging on being mental to need to keep harping on it all.  I suppose it was my concern for how Min would come across to her ex that made me check out.  Having said that, I think this novel is unique and brings this almost fresh approach to the break up story.    Although I felt it was all a bit overdone by the end, I still think it was an interesting read.

Just as a side note, the other day one of my students came walking in with this book.  When I asked her what she thought, she gushed (yes gushed!) and said, "I love how he gets a teen break up."  I guess that's my answer.  Although it wore me out, maybe it's the extended emotional mess that teens really feel and I just forget?  It was fun getting that view from my student.  Thankfully they reign in my cynical eye, right?

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on an advance review copy from Amazon's "Amazon Vine" program.


  1. Ahhhh this reminds me of my brother's break-up with his girlfriend two years ago (he was 17). They totally exchanged boxes of their stuff and hugged. Maybe this is a new teen phenom? I never had a serious bf in high school, so I don't know.

    1. I didn't either, so maybe so? I just thought all the detail seemed very dramatic. In some ways, it made me feel a little out of touch and as if I'm getting "old" now. LOL.