Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Why We Broke Up

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler (Illustrator: Maira Kalman)
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont Australia
Published: February 1st 2012
Source: Publisher for review

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.

When you're in a relationship with someone, sometimes you'll keep a box of mementos to remind yourself of all of the times you had together. When you break up…that box may stay tucked inside your closet, get thrown into a fire or…be dumped on your ex's front doorstep. That's Min's plan of action, as well as leaving a lengthy explanation of why she and Ed broke up. While loving the concept of this novel, the seemingly forced writing style and lackluster storyline prevented me from being swept up in Min's emotions like I had hoped.

I went into Why We Broke Up with some apprehension, expecting to be crying rivers by the time I was done. Unfortunately, I never got to that point, or to the point of feeling any intense emotion, really. I struggled to connect with the characters because of the way the book was written. Min speaks to "you", as the entire book is a letter to Ed, so it doesn't read like a conventional narrative where you familiarise yourself with the characters and join them on their adventure. Each item Min describes is linked to a different moment she and Ed had together, and while the stories do seem to lead into each other towards the end, the jumping around is quite confusing at first!

Their relationship is presented as quite negative from the very beginning. There were barely any moments where their "love" seemed worthwhile, so I didn't care when they broke up. I didn't care when they fought or when they made up again. I guess this goes along with the idea of Min telling Ed all of the reasons why they broke up in every chapter, hence the endless negative points, but the romance just didn't work this way. There had to have been a point where we really cared about the relationship to get the full effect of them breaking up, but instead we're left to wonder why Min stayed with him so long to begin with when he was so obviously wrong for her! Min's unique and likes quirky things while Ed's a stereotypical jock who's part of the flock. Their values and interests clash... Doomed from the beginning, I say!

Overall, Why We Broke Up wasn't right for me because I couldn't connect with the characters or story well enough. While there are moments of beautiful prose, the flow is disrupted by too many awkward sentences and descriptions that take up more pages than actual plot. But don't get me wrong, it most definitely has some good points. One random big thing to love? The binding. I just couldn't get over it when it arrived in my mailbox! The pictures, the shape and even the font inside makes it look and feel like a children's book. I love it! This is a book you need to be in a certain mood for to read and the story improves gradually as the mystery unfolds: Are we supposed to support or be against this relationship? Find out when you read!

So I had no idea that Daniel Handler = Lemony Snicket. Cool, right? I remember reading those books ;)

Find Daniel on Goodreads and Facebook.
Buy Why We Broke Up from Amazon, The Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.
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