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Book Review: Why We Broke Up

A book by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman Why%20we%20broke%20up%20resized - book review: why we broke up
You were going to be together forever.

It was true love, no doubt. You and your first boyfriend were inseparable. When you weren’t in class together, you were texting or IM’ing or hanging out. You couldn’t stop thinking about him.

Adults smirked and smiled an isn’t-that-cute smile, but you knew the truth: together forever. That was you and your first love.

And your second.

And your third, and, well, you’re getting a lot of practice at breaking up. And in the new book “Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman, there are always good reasons for Splitsville.

Ed Slaterton probably never heard the thunk, but his sister undoubtedly did and called him down to get the box that had landed on their stoop. He wouldn’t know what was in the box, but he wouldn’t be surprised…

Min Green (short for Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom) met Ed at her best friend Al’s Bitter Sixteen Party. Ed was a basketball player and Min was surprised that he’d approached her. They were just so different.

They went to a movie together on their first date. Min wanted to be a director someday and though Ed didn’t know anything about movies, he went because he wanted to make her happy. There was an adventure in front of him but he didn’t even realize it and that’s why they broke up.

One thing led to another and, eventually, they were together all the time. Min spent hours watching Ed practice playing a game so he could actually play a game, and that was boring. Ed got up way early to visit an odd store where he bought Min an expensive cookbook by old, dead Hollywood stars.

Oh, they were so different and that’s why they broke up.

There were spats, and jealousy that some might say was “cute” but it wasn’t. Ed thought Min’s best friend was gay. Min thought Ed’s sister was trying to get between them, but neither accusation was true.

Then Ed said he loved Min and Min said it back. And breaking up was imminent…
This book is somewhat unique, I’ll give it that. The plot is pushed along by drawings of an eclectic assortment of props that Min, who explains everything in a long letter, is returning to Ed, along with heartbreak and anger.

But those props and the uniqueness just aren’t enough.

“Why We Broke Up” is 368 pages of get-to-the-point. Min and Ed, after all, were together for nearly five weeks, which is about how long it seems to take to read this book. Moreover, Min is downright weird (not “arty” like she’s occasionally, irritably described) and she’s not very likeable with her constant sarcasm and references to old B movies. Ed, well, he’s a jerk.

Obviously, I struggled with this book. Go ahead and try it – it was, after all, penned by author Daniel Handler, who wrote the Lemony Snicket series. Just don’t be surprised if “Why We Broke Up” leaves your attention span in a thousand shattered pieces.
c.2012, Little, Brown $19.99 U.S. and Canada 368 pages

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