Second Look: Daniel Handler’s WHY WE BROKE UP

Even though I received an ARC of this book LAST June, I finally got around to reading it.  Katie tried, but she couldn’t get into it.  It was, much like I think she felt about Pieces of Us, hard for me to put down because I just HAD TO KNOW.

Written by the guy who brought us A Series of Unfortunate Events, and illustrated by Moira Kalman, the story chronicles, in letter format, the reasons that Min and Ed broke up.

Min and Ed broke up.  Min, who likes old movies and wants to be a director, decides to write Ed, the co-captain of the basketball team, a letter describing why they broke up.  She’ll include the letter (which is novel-length) in a box of things that she’s returning to him.  These things (illustrated by Kalman) are remnants of their relationship.  Each item is a reason why they broke up.  At least, Min thinks so.

Why the Really Broke Up
Min and Ed are two people from different worlds.  And in high school, that means a lot.  Ed is popular, co-captain of the basketball team, and has dated at least half of the school’s female population.  Min has a small group of friends that hate mainstream movies and drink coffee after school.  Oh, yeah.  (SPOILER! Highlight to read) Ed’s cheating on Min.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book, honestly.  The grammar, first of all, about killed me.  I get that it’s supposed to be in letter form – but the overuse of commas made me want to grab my RED PEN OF DOOM and send it back to the publisher.  In an email to Katie, I hoped that this was fixed before it’s January 2012 release.  The dialogue used throughout most of the book is also frightful.  One of the things I absolutely despise is the overuse of names in dialogue.  This is something that Handler clearly didn’t have an issue with in WWBU.  Personal pet-peeve, maybe.

The storyline had (has?) a lot of promise.  And the format of a letter, post-break-up is a great way of looking at the idea of why a couple broke up.  I find it hard to believe that Min could dialogue all conversations in her letter, which took away from the reality of it, though.

Why We Broke Up was a great idea.  And maybe it was greatly executed.  It just wasn’t my cup of coffee.  I’m glad I read it, but if it would’ve taken me longer than 2 days, I would’ve put it down.  My recommendation?  If your local library has it – go borrow it.  Sorry, Daniel Handler.  This isn’t a keeper for me.

Rating… 2/5 stars.


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