Why We broke up novel by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up: So Much More Than Teen Angst

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Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Published by Little Brown Books in 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Romance

Pages: 354


I was so excited to read this book that I bought it, get this, at full price. As an avid thrift-store shopper and Dollar Tree aficionado, paying $20 for a book is hard for me. I am honestly used to saying things like, “I dunno, four dollars seems unreasonable.” (Btw, only at Goodwill does a sentence like that make any fucking sense.)

Anyway! My love for Daniel Handler came fast and hard when I read Adverbs, the most nonsensical nonsense I’ve ever read and loved. He is a genius. A god. I only fell harder when I found out that Lemony Snicket was, in fact, his alter ego. Enter: Why We Broke Up.

To Give You a Quick Description:

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

The Book Itself is Gorgeous

Why We Broke Up has amazing illustrations all throughout.

Illustration from Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

A Simply Unmatched Writing Style

No one, NO ONE, writes like Daniel effing Handler. The kind of writing that simultaneously makes you want to write write write and give up because you’re not Daniel Handler.

Why We Broke Up is in the format of letters from Min to Ed, explaining to him, well, why they broke up. It is so, unbelievably poignant. A grown man manages to capture the feelings of a thirteen year old girl better than anyone would expect. Take this excerpt, for example:

“Ed, it was everything, those nights on the phone, everything we said until late became later and then later and very late and finally to go to bed with my ear warm and worn and red from holding the phone close close close so as not to miss a word of what it was, because who cared how tired I was in the humdrum slave drive of our days without each other. I’d ruin any day, all my days, for those long nights with you, and I did. But that’s why right there it was doomed. We couldn’t only have the magic nights buzzing through the wires. We had to have the days, too.”

Tell me you can’t read that in the voice of every teenage girl you’ve ever known? It is on. point. It was my life, for sure. I have held the phone close close close.

The Characters Make This So Great

Min is smart, focused, and motivated to become a director. Then we have Ed, who is, uhh, none of these things. Ed is a very mediocre dude. What felt so real to me is that people like Min do fall for people like Ed. People who could not be more opposite. And not in a good, opposites-attract-and-help-each-other-grow kind of way. In a smart-girl-falls-for-dumb-crappy-dude way. We all know this. We’ve all seen it. We’ve all done it. This is the human condition in one of its less flattering forms.

I’d Recommend Why We Broke Up to Anyone and Everyone

but especially anyone who loves YA romances that you know won’t turn out well.

Here’s a link in case you’d like to purchase Why We Broke Up on Amazon! *I only link up books I’d give 5 stars and believe in 100%*

Illustration from Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler


What About You?

I LOVE that this is a novel with gorgeous illustrations. Do you have any others to recommend?


*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/pole-vaulter. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.