The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Maria Kalman (Illustrator)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Word on the streets (that would be YA obsessed avenue) is that Why We Broke Up is a jolly good read, so I was pleased when I came across it at Waterstones Piccadilly. I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest. I did not enjoy it but I thought it was an awfully good read. I’m still not sure how I am going to translate my feelings into words.

First things first, the presentation of this novel is brilliant. Maria Kalman's artwork is impressive and adds great depth to the moody tone. It is also deceiving. I fell into the trap of forgetting that just because it is a picture book, it doesn’t mean it will be a quick and easy read. It was actually quite dense.

Now, onto the story. Min is on her way over to her newly ex-boyfriend Ed’s house, accompanied by best friend Al. She is writing Ed a letter explaining why they broke up. Min wants closure, Ross and Rachel style. Through a challenging stream of consciousness, Min speaks of how she met Ed, their glory days as a couple, and the great and terrible thing that split them up.

I did not like Min. Skimming the Goodreads reviews, I do not think many people liked Min. I do not think Min was intended to be likeable. She is pretentious, precocious, precious, paranoid and lots of other ‘p’ words. She is exactly how I am sure most adults view teenagers. She is exactly how most of us behaved as teenagers- if we replace film with music or sport or whatever held our attention back then that made us think we were 'different'- and this is precisely why reading her thoughts is uncomfortable. I think I feel the same way towards Min that Joanie does (and this probably goes for all the other twenty something’s reading this book). I could see it coming, like Joanie, but took a step back, waited for it and shrugged when it happened because Min is on a learning curve. Lots of people have spoken about the floods of tears they were in after reading this novel but I thought it was very frank in a ‘this happened, now grow up and move on’ kind of way. It wasn’t a sob story so much as an everyman’s cautionary tale or life lesson.

I am rambling because I still cannot exactly put into words how I feel about this book. But the fact that I am still thinking about it shows it was provocative (every time I say that word I say it in a Will Ferrell voice). I would give this novel a solid 4/5 and not just because I ended reading it with listening to ‘We Used To Be Friends’ by The Dandy Warhols and it fit PERFECTLY. So, here are my Why We Broke Up musical choices.
★ ★ ★ ★

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