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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Book ‘Why We Broke Up’ crafts perfect picture of soured relationship

    Book Why We Broke Up crafts perfect picture of soured relationship

    “Why We Broke Up” tells a story everyone knows, but keeps coming back to because it’s somehow always different, always the same and always a little bit more about us than we’d like to admit.

    For a book whose plot is summed up as soon as you read the title, “Why We Broke Up” has a lot to offer. Written by Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, this young adult novel is a tour through the breakup box of high school junior Min Green, a girl with a film reference for everything, and senior Ed Salerton, a boy on the basketball team who — despite his best efforts — can’t stop calling everything Min likes “gay.”

    The book is a letter from Min to Ed detailing the contents of the box about to be dropped on Ed’s doorstep. It contains “every last souvenir of the love we had, the prizes and the debris of this relationship, like the glitter in the gutter when the parade has passed.”

    Reading “Why We Broke Up” is an experience. Maira Kalman beautifully illustrates each artifact of Min and Ed’s relationship and Handler’s feat of capturing the voice of a teenage girl in the second person is no small one. These lovebirds may come from different cliques, but John Hughes couldn’t do this tale justice. This adolescent heartbreak is a cut above.

    Handler gets it.

    Each character is thoughtfully rendered. Min’s friends are sharp, snarky and could easily all make appearances in the movie “Juno,” assuming they’d want to since it’s now wildly too mainstream. Min relates everything to made-up art house movies that are so glorious to read that possibly the only thing sadder than this book’s subject matter is the fact that these films don’t exist. Ed may be co-captain of the basketball team but he isn’t here to simply play the role of the dumb jock. The two characters are woven together effortlessly. Min and Ed’s romance isn’t sappy and it’s not just for the young. Handler captures what is so tremendous about falling in love and why it leaves us so exposed when we fall out.

    The heartbreak is in the details. In word choices and brushstrokes, each sentence is carefully wrought. Handler knows the strength of specificity and the value of keeping it simple. There’s a lyricism to his bittersweet story. He knows why the love songs and the torch songs are so popular. He knows it isn’t about the story, but the way it’s told — and he tells it well.

    And that is why you should read “Why We Broke Up.”

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