I picked up Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler for kind of strange reasons, but then that’s why I pick up most books. I was in a used book store, and it just looked different than the other books. Thicker. Heavier. When I literally picked it up, it weighed a lot. The paper was thick and glossy, and there were color paintings as illustrations in the beginning of each chapter. I like things that are different, and so I bought it.
Daniel Handler, in case you didn’t know, is the real name of Lemony Snicket, who wrote all the “Series of Unfortunate Events” for younger kids. My kids loved the Series of Unfortunate Events books, and I loved their eerie, mock-Victorian cleverness. I didn’t know what to expect, though, since this book is not for 5th graders. This book is more for, say, 9th graders. Which makes it, I suppose, Young Adult, which is rapidly being confirmed as my favorite genre due to the sheer creativity and ability of the writers therein.
All of which is a long introduction to the synopsis: Min Green, an ‘arty’ type, and Ed Slaterton, high school jock, were dating, and have just broken up. Min has collected objects along the journey of their relationship, and she is giving them back to Ed, packed in a box. Each chapter describes how the object came to be in the box, and how the backstory for the object ultimately led to the circumstances that doomed their adolescent relationship.
There’s nothing epic or even particularly unusual about Min and Ed’s relationship. But that’s the beauty of the book. Min’s heartbreak is so relatable. Ed is your normal, boneheaded teenage guy, the kind most girls have had a crush on at one point in their teenage years. Min’s heartbreak is universal. The intensity of feeling and then the loss of Min’s first love will make you think of your own.
My husband, who read the book after me, didn’t like the book nearly as much as I did (senior citizen men are definitely not the target audience) but he believes strongly that all teenage girls should read it as a guide to how things can go so wrong when you think they’re all just fine. He wanted our teenage daughter to read it (and I’m quoting here) “So she’ll know that guys are idiots. But they can’t help it.”
Heckuva recommendation, no?
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.