Book Review: Why We Broke Up
by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman (illustrator)
For some odd reason, I have ended up reading a lot of “teen books” lately. I could say that it relaxes my mind. No need to concentrate too much or follow the plot too closely. Why We Broke Up fits perfectly into this category of books. Easy going, dramatic and a good read in every way possible. Once again in my opinion not too great but okay enough for me to write about it.
“I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much.”
Why I did read Why We Broke Up?
For me, finding books to read is like meeting new friends (does this sound too corny?) You either ‘stalk’ them for a few times before going and saying hello or you meet them accidentally and realize that you could become good friends. My meeting with Why We Broke Up was totally an accident. I was going to borrow crime novel and cookbook. I walked by the young adults’ section and didn’t mean to stop but this book had fallen and was now on the floor halfway under the bottom shelf. As a good library user I, of course, picked the book up.
“I gasped and pointed the way. 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.”
“Why We Broke Up” (in Finnish the name is even more interesting and translates to something like ‘And that’s why we broke up’). Black text on red book woke my interest. After a quick riffle through the book, I realized that every chapter started with a photo. I may be an adult but books with photos are still the best!
The last thing that made me walk out of the library without anything else was the back cover. I knew right away that this plot (even if it wasn’t quite what I had expected in the end) was something I would love. Opposites attracted to each other are my favorite kind of love stories. Also forbidden love stories like Romeo and Juliet are something I will always enjoy.
“Shit, I guess I already loved you then. Doomed like a wineglass knowing it’ll get dropped someday, shoes that’ll be scuffed in no time, the new shirt you’ll soon enough muck up filthy.”
About the plot of Why We Broke Up
Min and Ed, Ed and Min. Two so different high school students. Min loves movies, hangs out with the weirdos and doesn’t care what others think. Ed is the start of the football team, true jock, popular and has dated almost all the girls in their school. Min hates beer, Ed parties almost every weekend. Their friends don’t get along. They are just oo different and maybe they should have seen why being together wasn’t a good idea in the first place.
“Stop saying no offense,” I said, “when you say offensive things. It’s not a free pass.”
Min and Ed meet. They start dating. They fall in love. And then they break up. But why? There are too many reasons to tell in one sentence and that’s why this book is a letter from Min to Ed to explain their sudden break-up. They were in love. Their relationship was passionate. And then they broke up leaving Min with memories and box full of stuff reminding him of Ed.
My Opinion of Why We Broke Up
“Why not rise from the grave and terrorize a little instead of staying buried and dead in the cemetery?”
I want to love and hate this book at the same time but it just left me feeling nothing. Why We Broke Up looks cool from outside and inside. The red cover makes it delicious while the illustrations help you get into the story even more. Big font and easy to read chapters make it clear that this story is meant for modern youth who don’t pick books randomly. It has to be easy enough to read with photos and a lot of dialogue. Or at least that was how I imagined the style of Why We Broke Up was decided.
“…I looked for a scrape in my reflection and then, meeting my own eyes, stood for a sec and tried to figure, like all girls in all mirrors everywhere, the difference between lover and slut.”
The story is good and you get attached to the characters while reading but it’s still full of cliches. Some parts just felt too hipster and forced. Min was so different from everyone else that the side characters felt sometimes too one dimensional for my taste. I need interesting sidekicks. Min and Ed were both well-made characters but the story circled too much around them. I saw so many possibilities to expand the story with the personalities and problems of the other characters.
But if we put aside my love for the second leads, both Ed and Min are well-layered personalities who grow during the story as characters. Ed is jock so we automatically think him as a total bastard who only thinks himself. Min is a nerd so we see her as shy and boring. Those are the typical stereotypes in fiction. At first, it seems to be the truth, but the longer you read the more you discover secrets behind these two characters and their love story.
“Ok. So the yard is here.”
“It’s a football field. Don’t call it a yard.”
“Grass where people sit and hang out is a yard.”
“We stole things here, but that doesn’t make it a bank.”
Would I recommend Why We Broke Up for other people? Probably not. The reason isn’t that the book was bad because it’s plainly average in my opinion. I wouldn’t recommend it because after this review I will forget and not even remember the plot if asked for more information. It’s so average that I don’t hate and I don’t love it. If someone mentions the name of this book or the author, I will be lost for a while before I can see the red cover of this book.
But you shouldn’t believe my recommendations. All readers are different. You should give this book a go if you want a book that’s quick to read, has a sad love story (because you know how it will end), is illustrated, follows jock falling for nerd girl and contains a lot of references to movies.
“…there’s not enough ink and paper to say all I wanted.”