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Why We Broke Up

1 rating: -5.0
A book

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: Min, precocious and equally obsessed with classic cinema and good coffee, broke up with Ed, a popular math-loving jock who secretly carries a protractor. Daniel Handler weaves this heartrending story of first … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Genre: Teens
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
1 review about Why We Broke Up

I might be the only person who doesn't like this one. Eh.

  • Jan 30, 2012
So Daniel Handler's alter ego is Lemony Snicket which, believe it or not, explains a lot. The writing in this novel, Min's letter to Ed explaining why they broke up (I know, a total shock based on the title . . . I kid), has a lilting, lyrical quality readers will recognize from the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Unfortunately, as it did in those books, the tone does more to distance readers than draw them in. The Baudelaires never felt like authentic children and Min doesn't feel like an authentic teen.

Numerous times while going through this novel I had to stop and confirm it was in fact a YA novel because the writing, the tone, even the whole premise of the story felt decidedly adult. The object-as-explanation device is similar to the box of tapes Hannah Baker leaves after her suicide in 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Still, even with the addition of lovely illustrations by Maira Kalman, the idea never quite works here.

Min is not very likable. Ed is very, very unlikable (I mean, Min did break up with him after all) and never feels like a character in the plot, acting more as a inanimate object in Min's story than a real part of it. And then there's Al--an innocent bystander to this relationship train wreck. (To be fair, I also couldn't get past the big-book-length-breakup production for a relationship that didn't even last two months--I mean, really?)

Novels written as letters are hard. Love, Stargirl is one that worked well drawing readers into the story and the characters. On the other hand, with her sendoff to Ed, Min pushes everyone away.

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