October 1, 2012

REVIEW: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler - Goodreads page
Illustrator: Maira Kalman
Publisher: Little Brown Book for Young Readers
Published: December 27, 2011
Format: First Edition Hardcover; 354 pages
Rating: 3/5 stars
Get it: Amazon | B&N | The 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.

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
What I Liked

Narrator and main character, Min.

I liked Min. Though she spoke like she wasn’t sixteen and made me feel like I needed to expand my vocabulary, I enjoyed her strong, smart voice. She was sarcastic and funny at times. I liked how she loved films and did quirky things like write her ex-boyfriend this break up letter and keep all these tokens during their two month relationship. I love her wild ideas of stealing sugar, planning a party for an old actress, bitter birthday parties, and making an igloo out of egg cubes. She was so out there, I loved her individuality and her differentness even though she didn’t feel different or special or unique. I sure thought she was.

Illustrations and drawings in the book.

This was probably my favorite part of the book because it made it easier to visualize each token Min kept in the box of stuff she was giving back to Ed. More importantly, it made Min’s recollection of her short relationship with Ed a little more meaningful. It was a fun and cute way of giving the story something more. 

Emotional whiplash.

Despite all my dislikeness for Min and Ed’s relationship, these two gave me some serious whiplash. One second, I’m on a high from their cuteness together and the next thing I want to do is punch somebody in the face because, sheez, Ed was such an idiot. Then I’d go back to loving Ed because he does something sweet or caring or does something that doesn’t make him the shallow, basketball player-player that he really is. Then I’m back to wanting to kick something in places that shall not be named, back to smiling like a fool because yes Ed, you are cute and I cannot deny it! 

What I Didn’t Like

I like you Min, but what the heck are you talking about?
This book could have been amazing, brilliant and unforgettable if I actually knew half the things that Min was talking about, if I knew what the heck Min was going on and on about, and if I knew what in god’s name was Min doing because for the life of me, I just didn’t understand half of this novel. I would have adored this book to bits if only half of this novel wasn’t somewhere lost in space. 

Film references, real or not real?

The answer is not real. While Min writes this absurdly (yet intelligently) long break-up letter to Ed, she mentions and compares the moments to films that don’t even exist! I hated that so much because I didn’t get it. I felt it was just an unnecessary and poor way of showing Min’s love for films. It would have been more successful if real movies/films were used. Maybe then I could have made the connection. 

The reason for breaking up. 

This is definitely not the, “it’s not you, it’s me” type of break up. It’s really the, “hell yes it’s all you and not me, you (insert several inappropriate appropriate curse words).” Min explains their good, their bad, and all the shady things Ed does during their relationship I expected the reasoning for their break up to be this big life changing, life altering moment, but sadly this is not what I got. I think this is probably the downfall of this book. I was expecting so much, but I did not get anything at all and there lies in my disappointment. 

All in all, Why We Broke up was a good read, but it failed to deliver or meet my overall expectations. Nonetheless, you be the judge and give this book a try. It definitely has its shining moments. 


  1. I just can't decide if I want to read this book. I've seen it around and it's gotten a lot of mixed reviews. I don't know if I can read a book that I don't understand like your saying with the films. I just don't know. GAH! Should I read it Jessirae? Yay? Nah? Haha it's just one of those books I can't decide. XD Great review! Sounds like even though there was stuff that made no sense you enjoyed it enough to give it 3 stars. :D

  2. Uhh, I think its worth reading. i don't regret reading it at all, despite the issues I encountered. If you don't want to buy it, maybe you can borrow or something. It's a heavy book (as in its like 3 pounds or something) LOL. Thanks so much for reading my review. <3


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