Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler exceeded my expectations. I heard some very nice reviews on BookTube and decided to give it a go. I placed a reservation order in the library system and I had to wait for about a month to the book and it was worth waiting for.
The story is pretty simple – a girl meets a boy, they don’t have much in common, but there is this spark between them and something clicks. Unfortunately, they turn out to be too different to last as a couple. And so the girl decides to give the boy all the stuff she collected, while they were together and tell a story about each item. Min and Ed are from two completely different worlds – Min likes old movies and has creatively thinking friends, where as Ed is the popular boy and co-captain of the basketball team. They are both still in high-school, but Ed is older and much more experienced with other gender. Min falls for his charm and despite all the warning signs agrees to go on a date and then becomes his girlfriend. Ed thinks that Min is different than other girls, but he can’t explain in what way exactly – she just is.
Page by page we can discover a small treasure of a broken relationship. Min hoards all kind of stuff along the way. In the end she has a box full of old cinema tickets, bottle caps, chestnuts and many other things reminding her of each significant moment of their relationship. I like the honesty and openness in this book. It takes me back to the time when I was 16 and just started my first summer fling. OK, it turned out to be much more than a fling and we are still together 10 years later, but the first feelings and insecurity is the same. Questioning yourself – Is he the right one? Should I let him so close? Should we do it? Will it last? There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Being in a first serious relationship is always a chance and mostly something will go wrong. Teenagers usually can’t figure out what they really want. They struggle between emotions and rational thoughts, and most of the time emotions take the upper hand. There is no secure formula for success, but there surely is a formula for failure – lies and mistrust. It hurts the most.
I really love the presentation of this book. Each of the objects in the box is illustrated by Maira Kalman and I like that it serves as a kind of divider for the story, like chapters. I love the style and language in this book. It is very organic and really sounds like a voice of a teenager. It is very easy to relate to the characters or think of someone you know to match a character in the book. I like the overall feeling, but the ending was quite predictable. I would also like to have more information on the secondary characters, but it probably just wasn’t the point of this book as it was told form one persons perspective assuming that the receiver of this message already knows everything. Overall I rate this book by 8 out of 10 and would gladly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a story about first love or go back in time to remember their first romance. It is a light read and leaves an after-taste of coffee with double cream and three sugars.