Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Release Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Illustrated by: Maira Kalman
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed – thanks Vaidehi!
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

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.

Maybe it was because I had really high expectations for this book, but Why We Broke Up was pretty hard to get into. It took several attempts to start and I dragged this one on for days. I loved Daniel Handler's (under the name Lemony Snicket) A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I think because I kept wanting to get sucked into this story as I did with his series that I ended up not enjoying it overall.
The whole idea for this story was amazing, and the illustrations were bee-you-ti-full. It was also really interesting, because the book's pages are pretty thick, and hence different to other books. I really wanted to love this one, because I've heard plenty of people raving about it, but I just didn't get the feel of it until halfway. From halfway on, I needed to know WHY they indeed broke up, and so that was my drive for the rest of the novel.

Min's character was definitely interesting. I liked her at bits, and then in others, I hated her. She's definitely someone I wish I could be– "arty", all around old movie-lover, can reference to multiple old scenes– you know the type. I just didn't like the way she (I guess) expressed herself, writing about why they broke up. Sure, I could blame it on the author, but I must give credit to Daniel Handler: he can sure make you feel as if the characters are totally in control of their own story.
Ed. I wanted to hate him so much, but I just couldn't. There's just something very sweet about him, and even though I knew something was going to happen that would result in *gasp* breaking up, I just couldn't see him as the bad guy. Which is probably why I started to antagonize Min in my mind.

I found the whole idea of each item having it's own little story and why it contributed to their break up both interesting but a little tedious and tiring. It dragged on a little too much and I found my self skimming through, just trying to figure out why they broke up. The ending truly was something that I actually did not expect, but I also got a little confused along the way. I think the way that Min (Handler) actually wrote the actual end of their relationship a little hodgepodge, and was kind of all over the place. I'm still perplexed by it and need to probably read that section again, just to wrap my head around what actually happened.

Why We Broke Up was an interesting enough story, but one which I found a little hard to get into. It's a slow journey, yes, but there are special moments in this book which I believe make reading it somewhat worth it.

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  1. Hm. This is the first review we've read that allowed us to fully grasp the concept of the book (stories centered around objects) and we love the idea. Will have to check this out... but with the expectations of a slow story! Thanks.

  2. I definitely thought the book dragged a lot as every item was cataloged in exhausting detail-it was just too much. I was also a fan of the Series of Unfortunate Events although I never read the last few books because I felt like it dragged on too long as well.

  3. It's such a shame you couldn't get in to this. It was one of my favourites from this year!


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