Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler

I just finished Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.

I’m a huge fan of young adult fiction. Not enough authors trust the younger audience to be as clever, insightful, and smart as they really are. So when I have the pleasure of reading a book that gets it, I want to tell everyone I know.

This is the kind of the book that would be utterly ineffective in paperback or on an e-Reader. The book not only details the story of Min Green and Ed Slateron’s break-up, but does so with gorgeous, full-color illustrations courtesy of artist Maira Kalman.

Inside the book

It’s the kind of book where the weight of the pages matters. It’s heavy, like Min’s heart break, like the weight of a relationship gone awry (if you want to be vaguely heavy handed). The medium matters.

Regardless, it’s a good story told in an interesting form. It’s addressed as a letter from Min to Ed, as she gives back a box of mementos from their relationship, trying to get to the heart of why exactly they broke up. Min is funny and clever and occasionally delightfully rambling. Ed is terrible, though you’ll have to make your mind up about him yourself. The story is fantastically whimsical, nothing I wouldn’t expect from the same author who penned the Lemony Snicket books.  However, Handler tackles the young adult genre with a comic style and grace; understandable for anyone who has ever had their heart broken for reasons they can’t quite understand.

Additionally, Handler and Kalman put together The Why We Broke Up Project, where you can share your own stories of heart break. It’s kind of a therapeutic book and a therapeutic project. My favorite thing about the book is that instead of painting the back cover with praise, instead it’s covered with fellow author’s own personal quotes about heart break including Neil Gaiman, David Levithan, M. T. Anderson and Holly Black.

It was a good and a quick read. I recommend you check it out.


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