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Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up (edition 2011)

by Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman (Illustrator)

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8287810,967 (3.54)33
Title:Why We Broke Up
Authors:Daniel Handler
Other authors:Maira Kalman (Illustrator)
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler


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English (76)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
This was not what I expected from the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events, but I thought it was pretty good. The whole book is one long letter to Ed, Min's ex, as she rides to his house to deliver a box of all the things she collected during their relationship. Instead of chapters, each section begins with a piece from the box and the story behind it. Some parts were really predictable, but I liked the layout of the book. There's a lot of teenage drama. Artsy girl dates popular jock. That whole thing. But I've never read anything exactly like it, which made it better.

If anything, read it for the illustrations. The layout was my favorite part. ( )
  CarleyShea | Feb 5, 2015 |
Gr 9-12, Ed Slaterton, Mr. Popular, co-captain of the basketball team, can’t stop thinking about “arty” and “different” movie-loving outsider, Min Green. This is the story of why they broke up. Min Green is preparing to drop the box of treasures she’s held onto from their relationship off onto Ed’s doorstep. This is her letter to Ed, and this is the story of why they broke up. She walks through each item in the box, illustrated on each chapter's page, with the story of how that item came to be in her possession and why. Handler’s wit and expert writing bring Min, Ed and both of their circle of friends to life. Through Min, he is sure to conjure up those familiar feelings of heartbreak. You and Min know that at the end of her story, there is going to be a breakup. Yet there is something about the story that has you secretly hoping the breakup doesn’t happen. That maybe, just maybe, things will work out. Handler let’s us be in Min’s world, and see the personal, and real letter she will be giving to her ex-boyfriend. How Handler is able to conjure up those emotions can only be due to a mastery of his art and deep understanding of how true and real those feelings are as a teenager just as they are as an adult. Just as an FYI, there is use of language, reference to drugs, drinking, and sex. ( )
  foresterk | Oct 7, 2014 |
Min’s best friend Al is driving her to her ex-boyfriend Ed’s house, where she is ready to “thunk” down on his doorstep a box of treasures from their relationship: beer bottle caps from the night they first met, ticket stubs from the obscure old film they saw together at Min’s behest, and the condom wrappers from the night he took her virginity. Min is the “arty” and “different” girl obsessed with classic films and Ed is the popular co-captain of the basketball team. The sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes breathtaking story of Min and Ed’s relationship is told through these objects in Min’s stream-of-consciousness style. In lieu of chapter headings, each of the objects from the breakup box are depicted in cartoon paintings by Maira Kalman. An honest portrayal of teen relationships from the joyful first kiss to the devastating breakup; the story is universal without being cliché. Sure to be a favorite with teen readers who will relate to the excitement, intimacy, and humor of Min’s first love and the acute pain of her broken heart. Descriptions of sex, cursing, underage drinking and some marijuana use. Highly recommended. Ages 14 & up. ( )
  alovett | Oct 2, 2014 |
It took me two months to finish this book so I guess I didn’t find it exactly engaging. While reading the first pages I had a very unpleasant déjà vu of “The Lover’s Dictionary”, and well, I wish I could say I was wrong but this book turned out to be just as bad.

There was a pretentious feeling in it I couldn’t shake off (I mean, an Italian café called Leopardi, seriously?).

The dialogues were supposed to be very casual, I guess, but at some point they crossed the line and they went from casual to excessively staged (thus bordering on the annoying and the nonsensical).

And then there’s Min. She’s smart and witty and doesn’t wear slutty Halloween costumes like all the other girls in school (though she’s beautiful so she could totally pull it off but she doesn’t have to because not only is she beautiful but she has something else too, which is why everyone is jealous of her *yawn* - also every time she tells someone she doesn’t drink beer they react like she’s said she likes to eat babies. I mean I know it’s high school and everything, but the clichés in this book sometimes went too far. She doesn’t drink beer, can we move on?) (No, as a matter of fact we can’t, because guess what, at some point she does start drinking, and I know things aren’t just black or white but this just seemed stupid and inconsistent).

Did I mention how super smart and witty she was, well, when her boyfriend says: “There’s something unavoidable coming up next weekend, and I think we should figure out how to do it.” She actually thinks he’s talking about sex. "Only stupid people would think I’m smart." Thank God you know, Minerva, thank God you know.

And she may have said that she was cool with him talking about his past girlfriends but man he kinda overdid it, even if it’s cool for her, it doesn’t make it any less weird when you talk casually about them almost all the time.

Also, is it really necessary to write a word in italic in each dialogue just to emphasize said word? I get it if you do it once or twice or ten times, but if you keep this up in every freaking piece of dialogue at some point I will want to shoot myself in the face (and I did, want to shoot myself in the face, I mean, not actually did shoot myself in the face). The same goes for the movie references, there were like a gazillion and that also started to annoy the hell out of me, every goddamn thing she did, she felt the need to tell that that girl in that movie did exactly the same thing! Oh my God! What a coincidence! And the fact that they were fake movies was just plain ridiculous.

Then there was this scene where she dances with her ex-boyfriend in front of her current boyfriend just to get back at him because he mistreated her earlier or some shit, but that’s okay, you know, because he is the asshole, the captain (sorry, co-captain) of the basketball team, so it’s okay for her to do this kind of stuff because she’s smart and witty and different. I’m starting to get why you broke up. (But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an asshole, because he totally was).

The list of annoying/stupid things isn't over: at one point she says she doesn’t want her first time to be on his bed, that she wants it to be some place special, and later on this special place is revealed to be a motel. Eeexcuse me? Am I missing something? How is a freaking motel (which is described as plain and ugly) better than your boyfriend’s bedroom?

The only thing that kept me going was wanting to know the reason why they broke up, and this reason turned out to be dull and certainly didn’t deserve a whole book. It didn’t deserve a pseudo-poetic long letter written by the broken-hearted girl, which in my opinion kind of also sends a wrong message. Next time you find out your seemingly nice boyfriend is actually a stupid jackass (which by the way you should have known from the very beginning but I’m not here to judge), just set him on fire. Some stories just aren’t worth telling and this was one of them.
( )
  kairih | Aug 30, 2014 |
Wednesday, as I was waiting for a student to arrive at the public library for a session, I took a look around for some new reading material. The librarians helpfully put the new YA novels on book-stands atop the shelves, and it was there that I first spotted this beauty:

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Illustrated by Maira Kalman

354 Pages

The bold red cover caught my eye, with its painting of a falling teacup (A painting, not a stock photo of a pillow-lipped teen princess!), and the title sealed the deal. When I picked it up the book was solid and heavy, the pages thick and slick to serve the delightful illustrations sprinkled throughout the text. Though I didn’t discover it until after I finished the novel last night (I already knew this book was coming home with me), the blurbs on the back are all well-known authors commenting on their own experience with heartbreak. A sampling: Neil Gaiman, M.T. Andersen, Sara Shepard. Inspired.

This book is a jam.

Min Green is writing a letter to her ex, en route to deliver a box filled with the precious garbage of their relationship. Her letter starts at the beginning, with the very first memento, and wends its way through the weird and wonderful collection to build a whole picture of the bud, blossom, and wilt of her relationship with Ed Slaterton. The couple are an unlikely high school pair: Ed is the well-known Lothario co-captain of the basketball team and Min is a coffee-swilling film-obsessed gal with limited romantic experience. Min’s anger vibrates off the initial pages, blaming herself more than anyone for embarking on the doomed voyage, but soon gives way to bittersweet melancholy. The reader has the benefit of Min’s hindsight, but she is so well-written that it’s possible to see how she could have fallen for a boy who uses “fag” as an adjective.

Their courtship is sweet and frustrating and alarming, like most high school romances, compounded by their bird-loves-a-fish social situation. Every character in this novel is painfully three-dimensional, relatable even when being awful or stupid. The illustrations add a lot to the emotion of the narrative, adding a visual reference for each chapter of Min’s final missive to Ed while functioning as a pacing device. Small trinkets fill a single page while more significant ones draw out the suspense over two or three. Is there a girl on the planet who hasn’t amassed a box of silly treasures in the the throes of new love? Min may be more of a hoarder than most, but you will absolutely feel her pain looking at the ticket stubs, sweet notes, and more esoteric items that mark the milestones of her first love as she explains why it imploded.

I don’t want to spoil anything at all, this novel is very much about the journey since the reader knows at the outset that the breakup is imminent. Handler is also known as Lemony Snicket, and the wicked wit of those books is in great supply here. The book sails along on a tide of dialogue intercut with Min’s reflections, and her hindsight-musings on how those fit into the bigger picture now that she can see it. The narrative is not glib. Min is funny and acid and a mess, and refreshingly honest with herself, even as she is suffering the pain and humiliation of the breakup. Frankly, I am amazed that this book was written by a man, because it is so dead-on. It is the female answer to Rats Saw God.

Buy it, borrow it, read it, love it. ( )
  ArmchairAuthor | Jul 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Filled with long, lovely riffs of language (some paragraphs of Min’s moody reflections go on for over a page), exquisite scenes of teenage life and the sad souvenirs of one high school relationship, “Why We Broke Up” is a silken, bittersweet tale of adolescent heartache.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Handlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kalman, MairaIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kalman, MariaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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For Charlotte--why we got together -- D.H. + M.K.
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Dear Ed, In a sec you'll hear a thunk.
... the thing with your heart's desire is that your heart doesn't even know what it desires until it turns up.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316127256, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: Min, precocious and equally obsessed with classic cinema and good coffee, broke up with Ed, a popular math-loving jock who secretly carries a protractor. Daniel Handler weaves this heartrending story of first love and other powerful firsts as Min reveals, item by item, what's in the box she's leaving on Ed's doorstep. As readers learn why these two unforgettable characters broke up, the significance of these simple love tokens, beautifully illustrated by Maira Kalman, charmingly unfolds. Written with an emotional depth that allows both adult and teen readers to revisit memories of heartbreak and find pieces of themselves in Min--and maybe even Ed, Why We Broke Up will leave you wondering how Handler knows exactly what it's like to be a teenage girl in love. --JoVon Sotak

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:26 -0400)

Sixteen-year-old Min Green writes a letter to Ed Slaterton in which she breaks up with him, documenting their relationship and how items in the accompanying box, from bottle caps to a cookbook, foretell the end.

(summary from another edition)

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