Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Yes, this is the Daniel Handler that wrote the Lemony Snickett books, but this title could not be more different. It’s about a break up between Min and Ed, who had a passionate three-week long romance, even though they are as different as night and day. Min (Minerva to her family) is a free thinking student who has her own group of friends and would never be considered one of the cool kids. On the other hand, Ed Slaterton is a high school basketball star who is definitely one of the school’s most popular kids. Their being together makes no sense to her friends or his, but Handler does a wonderful job of letting the readers see into the mind and heart of Min. While we know the relationship is doomed from the first chapter of the book, readers are completely able to understand and identify with Min and her heartbreak. The story is told in a series of letters Min writes to Ed explaining why they broke up, each on centered around a souvenir she’s returning to him in a large cardboard packing box. She plans to dump the box on his doorstep, and hopefully be able to finally move on. Each object is beautifully illustrated by painter Maira Kalman, lending a realistic if comic air to the story. Readers see beer bottle tops from the party where they first talked, and tickets to the arts cinema from their first date. For Min, each object symbolizes one of the many reasons they couldn’t stay together, but by the end of the book readers begin to realize that even though Ed is a secret math nerd, much of what Min is writing to him will make little sense. I think teen readers will enjoy this book a lot; many of the trials and traumas Min and Ed go through are typical of teen relationships. I would recommend to all YA readers looking for a light and breezy read.