REVIEW OF ‘WHY WE BROKE UP’ BY DANIEL HANDLER
‘I’m writing it in a letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamned loved you so much.’ – Min Green, Why We Broke Up.
Written by Daniel Handler (perhaps better known as Lemony Snicket) and the artwork done by Maira Kalman this might be my favourite YA (Young Author) book I’ve read so far this year! I know I’m late coming to the party, but the truth is I’ve had this book for absolutely ages and I did in fact start it when I first brought it but it sat on my shelf and just looked very pretty for ages. Then last night I decided I needed to finish it. And that’s what I did, staying up until the wee hours of the morning just to finish it, because I simply couldn’t put it down.
Why We Broke Up tells the story of Min Green (short for Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom) and Ed Slaterton and explaining why they broke up. What’s so brilliant is that its written as a letter, from Min to Ed, which accompanies a box full of little trophies and prizes kept safe during the progression of their relationship, each one having a story and a reason why they broke up. The blurb gives us an idea of the items to expect, “this is the box, Ed. Inside is everything. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket from Greta in the Wild, a note from you, a box of matches, your protractor, Joan’s book, the stolen sugar, a toy truck, those ugly earrings, a comb from the motel, and the rest of it. This is it, Ed. The whole story of why we broke up.”
The relationship between a high school junior and a senior basketball jock is one you know from the get go is probably not going to work out, but you feel so sorry for Min throughout the letter, you end up praying that it does. The book is broken up with beautiful illustrations from Kalman, of an item from the box, signaling the moving on of the letter. The illustrations are an absolutely fantastic edition (I’m a sucker for illustrated books) and helps us visualize Min writing the letter while looking over all the items that contain all the memories of her and Ed, that she has finally decided to dump on his doorstep. Another interesting concept is that every film or actor mentioned is completely fictional which just shows the amount of work that went into writing this book. However, Handler writes in such a way that you believe that the terrible movie or the beautiful movie star being talked about is completely real.
Why We Broke Up shows a witty and interesting take on an adolescent break-up from the girl’s point of view. It is relatable and warm and makes me want to punch Ed in the face, but that’s okay. It is a book that will take prize possession of my bookshelf and is one I think I will be back to revisit time and time again.