Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler


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.


After visiting the HarperCollins booth at the OLA conference, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Daniel Handler’s book, Why We Broke Up. The booth was promoting the book with a ‘why we broke up’ display, allowing people to post the reason why their relationship ended.  Not only was the title heavily promoted, it also received recognition as a 2012 Printz Honor Book (excellence in young adult lit). Lastly, readers may better know author Daniel Handler as his other pen name ‘Lemony Snicket’.  Yes- it’s true! Handler wrote the fabulous, A Series of Unfortunate Events.  With all this build up, I was expecting great, great things from this book. 

Unfortunately, I’m telling you why I didn’t like your book, Daniel Handler.

First off, I could never connect with the sophisticated/artsy/mature/old soul of a teenager, Min. She never felt authentic to me and I was annoyed when she constantly referred to old movies/scenes.  I’m not even sure they were real movies, but honestly, I don’t care enough to find out. I mostly skimmed through any reference to an old movie or actor (which was a lot!)

Min’s narration made me bonkers. It was stream of consciousness writing, so she just wrote on and on and on with really long sentences that didn’t always make a lot of sense. It made the writing really hard to follow and I often had to go back and re-read the passages.  If I had a difficult time reading the break up letter, I’m pretty sure the co-captain of the basketball team isn’t going to read a 300+ page break up letter.   Min would be better off burning the stuff.

I almost wish I got an e-book version of this book because it is physically heavy. The thick glossy pages made my wrists hurt! Also, in terms of formatting, the book could have done without all that white space surrounding the text. However, I did really like the addition of Maira Kalman’s drawings of things Mina placed in the breakup box. I also loved reading the break up stories of other YA authors on the back of the book.

Overall, it’s really up to you to decide whether you want to start a relationship with this book…  our personalities didn’t match, but perhaps you fared better? Let me know!

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