Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Illustrated by Maria Kalman
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: December 27th 2011
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Challenges: Standalone, Contemporary
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.
From the first page you can tell that this is not your typical Young Adult novel. Just by lifting this brick of a book you can tell it will be different by the very weight of in, and then when you take a quick flip through you will notice the numerous beautiful pictures that have been added to the story.
When I saw this book for the first time I really thought it would be a good story, but it hurts me to say that that was not so. From the very beginning you begin to notice that a very important piece of the book is missing, though I myself can not quite figure out what that would be. It’s almost as if the path that a book is supposed to take to complete the story has been knocked out from under it, though at the same time you know that this is a story of the two people breaking up just from the title.
Other than the pictures, one of the most distinct characteristics of this book is that the book is told in second person, which if you do not know, means that the narrator is speaking directly to a specific person, by using the word you, as in You said… I don’t think I have ever read a book in second person before. It’s a very interesting way of reading.
The ending was the part of the book that will probably be most memorable for me, though I promise I will not tell you why they broke up, I will say that it is like a slap in the face for the readers as well as the characters. It reminds you that all books will not have happy endings, just like in life.