Book Review of “Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler

Hi followers and readers! I apologize for being a bit absent lately from the blogosphere! I was finishing up my final exams, and….


That’s right! I finally graduate after four long years. I now have a Bachelor of Arts in English with University Honors, and I graduated Summa Cum Laude (highest honors) with a 4.0 GPA (the most perfect GPA my university allows). It was a stressful, yet exciting day. Here are some pictures that show my excitement!

This blog post isn’t about my graduation, however. It’s a review of the latest book I read (and lost my soul to)—Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman.

I first noticed this book in Barnes and Noble a few years ago, but I never picked it up. Over the years, I’ve seen various reviews of it—from my friends and from the blogging community in general, and typically, the reviews I’ve seen from these people have been relatively high. A few months ago, I was in Books-A-Million in Nashville or Jackson, TN (I can’t remember which), and I saw this book for only $4.97. I immediately grabbed it, as I had been wanting it for years but didn’t want to pay $20 just in case the book wasn’t my cup of tea.

IMG_3124This book, essentially, is about a break up between two high schoolers. However, it’s so much more than that. It’s a letter that main character Min Green is writing to her now ex-boyfriend, Ed Slaterton, and she is putting the letter, along with items that defined their relationship, into a box and delivering it to him to cope with their break up. Along with these items, Min writes reasons why they broke up and how she’s coming to terms with how they were never meant to be all along, she just couldn’t see it.

Why We Broke Up isn’t a typical, Young Adult Contemporary Romance. It didn’t contain a romance that will remembered for ages, nor did the break up contain a philosophical message that’s meant to move readers to a deeper understanding. It was simply a break up—a relationship and break up between two high school students. It portrayed the feelings and emotions and drama of a first real relationship, love, and heartbreak. The author wasn’t afraid to show that relationships, especially between two teenagers, are awkward—especially when the two characters are nothing alike.

One of the most enjoyable aspects about this book, to me, is that the characters and their actions were so realistic. It’s true, no matter how unfortunate it is, that when in high school and when you get your first boyfriend/girlfriend, you tend to drop your friends and become wrapped around the significant other, making him/her your whole world. It’s just how it happens, and I like that Daniel Handler included that in here when writing Min. She, consciously or unconsciously (I’m not sure), abandoned her friends and made Ed her entire world. I liked how realistic it was. It wasn’t that she didn’t want her friends anymore—it was just that she became so invested in her first real relationship that it took precedent over everything else.

3868f3d3490d83a9e49ac50612f2cbdfI also like how the two main characters, Ed and Min, were likable and unlikable at times. Ed, of course, was the typical, popular jock, but he had his moments when I thought he was actually a decent guy. Of course he’s not perfect. He’s about seventeen! He was realistic for a high school boy. He was a jerk, unfortunately, but the author didn’t sugarcoat it. It is what it is. And Min. I loved Min, but at times, I found her overdramatic…But that was the point! When in your first relationship, you are dramatic! Everything is extreme and overdone and blown up. I think the character portrayals were written wonderfully, to where they had flaws but were undoubtedly likable, as well.

I really enjoyed the letter format of the novel and how Min’s sentences had incorrect grammar and run on sentences and almost mimicked her train of thought. It was basically stream of consciousness. I think this showcased her distress and hurt over she and Ed’s break up. Her feelings show in more than her words—they show in her sentence usage and her lack of proper punctuation. It was as if she needed to get every word, sentence, and feeling out to purge her of her heartbreak, and it was perfect. Perfectly imperfect.

One of my favorite parts, and least favorite parts, about this novel is that it made me nostalgic. It brought me back to my high school days where I was wrapped up in a boy and feeling the emotions of first “love” and heartbreak. And while high school was a weird and awkward time that I’d never wish to return to, I loved how this book accurately portrayed it. It didn’t make high school out to be this wonderful experience where someone finds their one true love. It was just plain high school—awkward and odd and filled with friendships, relationships, and inevitable ups and downs. I think it speaks for how powerful the novel is that it took me back to high school—something that I’m obviously over and done with. It shows how powerful the author’s writing and storytelling is.

The relationship only lasted two months, but it took up Min’s entire world, and I loved that! It’s so true how a relationship can develop so quickly as a teenager because you are wrapped up in the new feelings that you’ve never felt before. I loved how realistic that was. Some people may say that it was too insta-lovey, but I think that’s what made it even more realistic. When someone is sixteen, there is insta-love! It was realistic, in this case! It was incredibly high schoolish!

Mostly, I love how it didn’t end on some grand finale where Min realizes something important and prophetic about love and relationships. It just ends, just like relationships do. She gives back the stuff she collected and that’s the end of it. There isn’t a point really. Love happens, relationships end. That’s it. And to me, that’s beautiful!.

After reading this book, I felt like I’d just experienced a painful break up, and I almost cried during Ed and Min’s actual break up scene. The writing was powerful and emotional, and the entire thing was so realistic. This is the definition of realistic fiction.

55208d69791835add24f079da9876ca9I’m in shock that this novel only has an average rating of 3.5 on Goodreads. For me, it’s an easy 5/5 stars. I adored every single aspect of the novel, and it has a beautiful cover to add the cherry on top of this already perfect sundae! I’d recommend this novel to anyone wanting to read a realistic fiction novel, a young adult novel, or a novel about a relationship that really has no point other than to show what a high school relationship is like.

By the way, the author of this novel is the man who wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events. Daniel Handler is Lemony Snicket. How cool is that! I’m amazed!