Why We Broke Up (Daniel Handler) – Review

Why we broke upWhy We Broke Up by Daniel Handler 
Art by Maira Kalman
Age: Teen
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co, 2011
ISBN: 97803161272557 / 354 pages
Find this book at your local library

Written as a long letter detailing their tumultuous 2 month relationship, Min (short for Minerva) Green explains in excruciating detail why she and the popular co-captain of the basketball team, Ed Slaterton, broke up. The letter begins with Min explaining the box of contents that have been plunked down on Ed’s front porch. In the box are a series of elements and trinkets that Min had collected and stored while they dated. Each chapter starts with a beautiful illustration of one of the items from the box, along with a story of that item, and Min’s hindsight into why they should have broken up earlier.

Daniel Handler has always been one of my authors ever since I first discovered his as Lemony Snicket of the Series of Unfortunate Events. Although I wasn’t a big fan of his adult book, Adverbs, I did devour The Basic Eight with a childlike glee. Pared with Maira Kalman’s amazing artwork, this book is a fantastic read for both teens and adults. Anyone who has ever suffered a terrible first love turned first breakup. This is the second book Kalman and Handler collaborated on. They also worked on a rather morbid children’s book titled 13 Words.

Handler writes with an ease of language that reminded me of when I was in high school, and the high schoolers I come into contact with now. Min is a part of the “arty” kids, although don’t be caught calling her arty. She loves movies, especially noir, classic flicks, and has high hopes of being a film director when she gets older. Her character is like the every-woman. She’s clever, she’s insecure, she has a fantastic group of loyal friends. By all accounts, Min Green and Ed Slaterton belong in two different spheres in their small town. Somehow, they meet at a Bitter Birthday Party, and a relationship soon sparks.

In a sec you’ll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It’ll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because its so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she’s cooking.

The thunk is the box, Ed. This is what I’m leaving you. I found it down in the basement, just grabbed the box when all of our things were too much for my bed stand drawer. Plus I thought my mom would find some of the things because she’s a snoop for my secrets. … Every last souvenir of the love we had, the prizes and the debris of this relationship, like the glitter in the gutter when the parade has passed, all the everything and whatnot kicked to the curb, I’m dumping the whole box back into your life, Ed, every item of you and me.

For more fun & amusement, follow the Why We Broke Up Project on Tumblr, where Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman post letters and break-up stories people have submitted to them.

One response to “Why We Broke Up (Daniel Handler) – Review

  1. I will be reading this one soon and am super intrigued by it’s cover, the way it’s bound, etc. I haven’t seen anyone else review it, so thank you. I’m looking forward to this quirky read.

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