Why We Broke Up is Daniel Handler’s YA novel with Maira Kalman and documents the break-up of Min and Ed. Min is on her way to Ed’s with the box that contains every reason they are breaking up, she’s writing a letter to explain each item too.
Why We Broke Up is reminiscent of John Green novels to me; the intelligent characters and Min’s interest in old films for example just reminded me of that type of contemporary. At times, I have to admit this made it feel a bit like Handler was trying a bit too hard to make Min cool and edgy, but he juxtaposed this really well with Ed, a more ‘stereotypical’ popular teen. I really enjoyed the dimension their differences added to Ed and Min’s relationship. When you’re a teenager, who you’re friends with can feel like everything so for two people from different ‘cliques’ to come together in a book honestly, there had to be references to those differences. The expectations of dating a popular guy, of falling in love for the first time often don’t match up to the reality and I feel that this really showed it well.
Beautifully written and accompanied with stunning illustrations that really make this novel stand out, this book documents the rise and fall of a relationship perfectly. Every item and it’s emotional significance and story worked well for me and I thought that the anecdotes flowed well from one to the other. I also loved how they were linked a lot of the time, like the actress Min admired and thought she saw and her overall significance not only to the plot, but to their entire relationship. Some of my favourite moments in the book were the final confrontation scenes between Ed and Min, and one of the fundamental reasons they broke up, along with Ed and Min’s first date.
Overall this book depicted the highs and lows of that ‘high school’ love very well, with developed characters and a compelling relationship. From what started as a seemingly great relationship, Handler shows the reader how easily that first serious relationship can be derailed. It is not a hopeless book though and Min’s best friend Al seems a perfect match for her and I am sure I am not the only reader left wondering what the future will hold for them. The strain on her friendship with him and pull between her friends and Ed’s friends was really well written and honest to life. I also loved that it was the summation of all of the little things, and a few big things, that ultimately led to the break-up.
Why We Broke Up is available to buy now and comes highly recommended from me! If you are a fan of contemporary YA, this is a book not to miss and the art within it really makes it something special. I received a free proof of this book from Electric Monkey for reviewing purposes.