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text 2016-09-06 17:34
Why We Broke Up - Maira Kalman,Daniel Handler
I think this is a 3 star for me simply because Daniel Handler writes beautifully, but the story just wasn't for me. Chalk it up to me being to old to enjoy being in the head of a person who is destined to grow up to be the most odious of hipsters. My advice would be if you want to read a Daniel Handler novel about teen angst try the basic eight, or maybe Lemoy Snickety(I only read the 1st 3) . Recommend for burgeoning odious hipsters.
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text 2016-07-07 13:59
Why We Broke Up - Maira Kalman,Daniel Handler
I think this is a 3 star for me simply because Daniel Handler writes beautifully, but the story just wasn't for me. Chalk it up to me being to old to enjoy being in the head of a person who is destined to grow up to be the most odious of hipsters. My advice would be if you want to read a Daniel Handler novel about teen angst try the basic eight, or maybe Lemoy Snickety(I only read the 1st 3) . Recommend for burgeoning odious hipsters.
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review 2016-02-13 03:21
Review | Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Why We Broke Up - Maira Kalman,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.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note to Readers: You may know author Daniel Handler more for his Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events series

 

 

What with the rave reviews Booktube has been giving this book and all the videos / Instagram pics I've seen showing the illustrations, I thought this would be a sure thing. Nah, not so much for me. In fact, so far I think this is the winner for MOST BORING book I've read so far this year. The dialogue was such a slog for me, not much of anything happened with the actual storyline, and the characters themselves ... OMG. Min likes over-seasoning everything with the G-D curse word, while Ed constantly labels anything even remotely artistic as "gay". So you know she found herself a winner there.

I honestly have no idea why these two tried to be a couple for any length of time. The commonalities between them are pretty tenuous. It's fine for people to come from different interests -- for instance, Min likes classic movies while Ed's love is basketball -- but these two don't seem to really love each other's company all that much. Sure, they acknowledge finding each other good-looking, and Ed keeps talking about Min's "arty" nature that's "so different from other girls" (yep, his interest leans heavily on this trope) but he also spends a lot of time pointing out the different ways it's kind of a turn-off sometimes. Min also seems to use a lot of the stories behind the items as a way to show Ed how he failed her as a boyfriend. Which had me thinking, "Did you not think to maybe talk this out with him while IN the relationship?" {But what am I saying, these are teenagers and as teenagers most of us notably sucked at the finer points of coupling.} It was hard to understand how they could act like they were mostly just tolerating each other, constantly pointing out what bugs them about each other, but then throwing around I Love You's at the same time.

It seemed a bit like petty silent tallying of wrongs, which is a classic killer of any relationship. Especially pointless when you come to the end and see what really ended them is one of the most common reasons for ANY couple to break up. So in the end, it ain't all that deep or epic. And neither was the journey to get there. Hence, most boring read for me so far this year.

I give it credit for beautiful book design (at least for the hardcover copy I read from) and the intriguing story CONCEPT. The concept is a large part of what peaked my curiosity. The execution of the concept makes me hesitant to pick up any more of Handler's books. (I mean, I probably will... just won't be in a huge hurry to do it.)

 

 

 

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text 2015-03-19 16:55
Why We Broke Up
Why We Broke Up - Maira Kalman,Daniel Handler

Min and Ed broke up. Min is giving Ed a box full of all the memories they shared including a letter of the reason they broke up. Ed was caption of the basketball team, Min was a nonpopular girl with not many friends. When she met Ed she fell head over heals for him, but in the end she knew that it was a bad idea.

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review 2015-03-05 00:00
Why We Broke Up
Why We Broke Up - Maira Kalman,Daniel Handler Although I consider young adult fiction to be a guilty pleasure of mine, sometimes I don’t feel quite so guilty about it. Despite the fact that Daniel Handler’s YA novel Why We Broke Up feels even more juvenile than most picks from the young adult genre because it is a picture book (artist Maira Kalman’s work is included at the beginning of each chapter), the art is actually a quirky and creative means to tell the story of why protagonist Min (short for Minerva) broke up with Ed Slaterton. I certainly anticipated feelings of guilt before I started reading this one, but once I picked it up those feelings evaporated rather quickly. This was an incredibly enjoyable read and one I wouldn’t feel an ounce of shame to recommend to me friends (which is why I’m writing this review, I guess).

So the plot: en route to her now-ex’s house, Min composes a letter detailing the reasons why she and Ed broke up as she goes through a box of all her Ed-paraphernalia. Each item within the box (illustrated in the book by Kalman) is afforded its own chapter in which Minerva elaborates upon the circumstances surrounding the physical object that reminds her of Ed and how it made her fall for Ed or foretold their coming break up. In so doing Minerva shares with readers the story of how she came to fall for Ed in the first place. It’s a deceptively sweet young love story told within the confines of an unapologetic break up novel, the classic tale of two young people from different worlds falling in ill-fated love.

Minerva, an unabashed cinema nerd, continually cringes as Ed’s friends try to describe her – she always dreads being labeled “arty” but what she is more commonly classified as, “different,” isn’t much better given its vagueness and potential for profoundly negative connotations. Ed is co-caption of the basketball team, a charismatic high school senior that seems to have dated pretty much every girl in school with even the slightest ounce of popularity to her name. Min and Ed meet one another at a party, a chance encounter for two high schoolers from completely different social circles – after a disappointing basketball loss, Ed and company crash one of Min’s friend’s parties. Minerva’s friends are a delightful bunch, fiercely loyal to both one another and their respective ideas of themselves as independent and authentic. They spend time at coffee shops and see black and white movies at the art house movie theater, they explore the most interesting haunts of their neighborhood and have ironic Bitter Sixteen birthday parties. They aren’t the most developed teenage characters in the world of fiction, but they are appealing in their earnest attempts at being themselves and their ability to plainly recognize the superfluousness of popularity, athleticism, and high school drama. Ed’s friends fall on the other extreme, a group of far more one-dimensional characters who spend their time at bonfires dominated by gossip, kegs, and an endless game of musical girlfriends among the basketball players.

But then Min catches Ed’s eye and introduces him to her world. There is something rather endearing about the trope of the artistic love interest opening up new doors for the more conventional one and Handler carries it out rather sweetly.

Of course, conflict arises. Ed was conditioned to behave towards women in a certain way that is far from conducive to Min’s expectations of coupledom. Min tries to ignore Ed’s complete lack of taste, not to mention his lack of genuine interest in her friends. Their circles are so far removed that social events require careful and elaborate planning so as to evenly split time with both groups. Ed’s ex-girlfriends are constantly around, constantly contributing to Min’s sense of self doubt. Min learns her lesson that you can’t choose a boy over your true friends.

Handler also gives readers a fair share of what we always seek in romance novels, whether written about the young or the old – a glimpse into the remarkable and unrepeatable world two people create together. Even though we know all along, thanks to the author’s wise choice of title, that this relationship will end with a split, that doesn’t negate the moments of tenderness, humor, and adventure that Min and Ed share. On their first date, Min takes Ed to see a movie and, upon leaving the theater, surmises that an elderly lady also exiting the theater is in fact the aging star of the film they just watched. The ensuing narrative of Min and Ed following the supposed actress around town and to her home highlights the way that Min brings out a certain side of Ed many don’t see, not even Ed himself. It’s a side that is game for adventure, that seeks something in life other than the unquestioned norm, but he painfully needs some guidance in how to access that part of himself to begin with. Each item in Min’s box is a testament to this world that no longer exists by novel’s end, the small touchstones that indicate the type of people Min and Ed were in the short time they spent together.

Handler expertly characterizes a modern day Romeo and Juliet, a pair that obviously don’t belong together but are still drawn to one another in ways that are at once plainly clear and deeply complicated. Why We Broke Up is easy to mock (I’ve seen my fair share of negative reviews whose titles are hackneyed puns along the lines of “Why I Broke Up With This Book”), but I appreciate Handler’s bold (and I would argue successful) attempt at navigating the seas of teenage love and heartbreak in a fresh way. And if it makes you feel any better, you don’t have to tell anyone that pictures accompany the story though in retrospect, I ultimately found them to be just another sweet touch.
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