Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 354
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Reason chosen: 

I heard very good things about this book.

Summary taken from Chapters/Indigo.ca:

Min Green and Ed Slaterton have broken up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. A movie ticket from their first date, a comb from the motel room they shared and every other memento 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. Why We Broke Up is a sincere and moving portrait of first love, first heartbreak and all the firsts in between. 


I almost don’t know where to start. Although, apparently Min had a pretty good idea where to start when she started writing this letter to Ed. So here I go.
I felt like they were Romeo and Juliet, but they had nothing in common and were doomed from the start. Like Romeo and Juliet they do not end in some fairytale romance. Its about the harsh realities of life in our present day society. The book cries out about the different cliques in high school and how everyone is against them from the start because they are so “different”.
I was captivated by Min’s letter, which really seems more like a rant, speech, and even her way of getting over things. I couldn’t help but love this book as it caught me from page one telling us about a love that she would remember, that ended and why it ended.
It’s about all the little things in a relationship that you should pay attention to instead of waiting for the one really big thing that promptly ends it. Or is it about trying to make things work not matter what? Or should you always listen to your friends even when it means potentially missing out on the love of your life
What I struggled with the most is whether there is the message of “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” or if we should cut the strings that we know just won’t work out and forgo the experience. I have a feeling that Min would side with the first.  And then, I guess, there is the question of whether or not each love will only open us up to the next until we find the one we really wanted all along. Ou….this book brings out some really good emotions and questions and captivated our heart with the modern day version of two star-crossed lovers.


The emotion. You could see it all over the writing. You could see Min poring her heart into the letter and sometimes getting frustrated with Ed, herself, and just what happened, while other times falling completely in love again and remembering how beautiful some things were.
Min: probably the best story teller. The way she can describe something providing a vivid picture of her meaning, intent and some much more with so many words is entrapping. I do want to say that she is Artsy as she sees everything through the eye of director’s chair—hence her passion and her career choice. She manages to make everything come alive like we are sitting there in the coffee shop watching as she ferociously writes this extremely long letter while picking things out of the box, while Al watches on and lets her do what she has to do.
Everything. It was fantastic, unusual, emotional…real.


Ed: Although I found myself falling in love with Ed the same time that Min does, I found myself also warning her along with her friends, seeing all the faults, and seeing the large differences that were destined to set them apart and keep them apart.

Overall (Writing style, story line, and general):

Overall...I loved it.
I did find some of the writing confusing but it’s written in thought form. Where it is all the ideas and emotions that were running through her head at the time, and if anyone has every stopped to think about what they are thinking about they know that things thought can lead down winding roads and lead to something that is almost complete unrelated, and eventually even cut off completely.


“Every last souvenir of the love we had, the prizes and the debris of this relationship, like the glitter in the gutter when he parade has passed, all the everything and whatnot kicked to the curb.”

‘I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much.”

“I gave you an adventure, Ed, right in front of you but you never saw it until I showed you, and that’s why we broke up.”

“…you looked at me like you didn’t know your lines”

“It was the pen just giving up midway and scratching invisible ink scars on the paper or suiciding to leak on my hand, and trying to remember if I’d touched my face recently and am I a ballpoint coal miner on my cheeks and chin.”

“You think everything’s sexual tension,” I said to Lauren, “just because you were raised by Mr. and Mrs. Super-Christian. We Jews know that underlying tensions are always due to low blood sugar.” “Yeah, well, you killed my Savior” Lauren said, and Jordan saluted good-bye. “Don’t let it happen again.”

“Lauren pretended to faint dead away. “Al!” she said, in her mother’s voice. “That is a violation of the student council honor code! It will be a very long time before I trust you ever, ever—OK, I trust you again.”

“The person besides Lauren who is allowed into Lauren’s purse is whoever finds her dead in a ditch and is looking for identification.”

“We knew it,” said the girl who was with her. “It always happen, getting too close when someone’s never seen it before. It’s like the fire attracts the virgins, ha-ha.” They were both looking slyly at me. I wanted a beer. “Ha-ha,” I said. “It’s true my hymen is extremely flammable.”

“All you’ll have to do is popcorn and put some pants on.” Al told me once late at night that usually when we’re talking on the phone, he’s pacing around his room in his boxers. We made a deal one morning early when he couldn’t pay attention that I’d never tell anyone if I could tease him mercilessly about it forever.”

“It’s kind of personal.” He turned off the water and watched me in the doorway with the towel on his shoulder. “OK.” “I mean, not like my period or my parents beating me, but personal.” “Yeah, its rough when your parents beat you and you have your period.”

“Don’t say that. You said quick.” “Well, it would be.” “Quick is an opinion.” “No, Min.” Al finished the beer but kept looking at it. “Quick is an adjective.”

“I’d slap him, but it’s still delicate between us.”

Viewer Type Recommendation:

If you want an emotion read, are trying to get over some one, or just something that might even give you hope. This is it.

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