Published by Little Brown on 12/27/2011
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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.
I decided to finally read Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler because Daniel Handler will be coming to Syracuse this December. In case you don’t know, Handler is also Lemony Snicket, and I’m pretty darn excited about him visiting. I thought I should also read his Printz Honor winning YA novel. Suffice it to say that Why We Broke Up totally deserves that Printz Honor Award.
Why We Broke Up is actually told in second-person point of view, which is kind of weird, but listening to this via audiobook made it work. Handler did make the second person POV work, and I don’t think many authors could. Min is writing a letter to her ex-boyfriend explaining to him why it is that they broke up. In her letter, we learn how Min and Ed met, became a couple, and ultimately, why they broke up.
Handler does a wonderful job of accurately showing what it’s like to be a teenager. So many of Min’s experiences were similar to ones that I had as a teen. Min herself felt very much like a teen I would see in the library today. I liked Min so much. She’s okay with being herself, but she also has insecurities like the rest of us. She’s passionate about movies, especially the oldies. I loved all the movie references in her letter to Ed, even if I’ve never seen those movies.
I listened to the audiobook of Why We Broke Up, and it was definitely the right decision, but I did miss out on the amazing illustrations by Maira Kalman. Luckily we have this book at the library where I work, so I was able to flip through them afterwards. I really feel like listening to Min tell Ed the whys of their break up contributed to how much I enjoyed this book, as opposed to reading the print version. Besides, this book is heavy!
Overall, I’m so glad that I finally got around to reading Why We Broke Up. It’s a very accurate portrayal of high school, told from a extremely likable main character. If Daniel Handler writes another YA book, I will be all over that!